Keeping Our Children Safe

It is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Following the death of two teenagers in the Close-Up Forever Summer Concert at the open parking area of SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, anecdotal reports quickly surfaced in various social media about the preponderance of drugs and alcohol during the event.

Of the five victims, two died because of massive heart attack due to dehydration, high blood pressure, and kidney failure, all of which are indicators of drug overdose, according to initial findings by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Many parents are understandably disturbed, with most of them thinking of how best they can protect their children from such unfortunate incidents. Some may even actually be thinking of tightening their reins on their children.

As we pray for the deceased and their families, it might do us good to do some reflection of our own.

It may also be time to refresh our minds, as well as those of our children’s, about safety guidelines that need to be followed by everybody whenever our teenagers go out with their friends to parties, concerts, and other events.

Get all the relevant information. Whenever your teen asks permission to go out, get everything you need to know. Ask him where he’s going and how long he’ll be there. Know who he’s going with and what they’ll be doing. If it’s a party at a friend’s house, ask for the address and phone number.

Enforce your no smoking, no drinking, and no doing drugs policy. Talk to your teen about this rule in a calm manner. Explain why you are enforcing this policy, and ask that it be respected. Eventually, your teen might find himself in a situation where cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol maybe offered. Coach him on how best to handle the situation. If he knows how to deal with such a situation, he is more likely to manage it successfully.

Build your network. It is a good idea to collect the names and phone numbers of your child’s friends as well as those of their parents’. Save their contact information on your address book. You’ll never know when they might be of use to you.

Double-check with fellow parents. If your teen is going to a party at a friend’s house, it would be wise to call the parent of the party host to make sure there’s adult supervision. Ask about the parent’s policy on cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. If they do not coincide with yours, then perhaps it might not be okay to give your teen permission to go to the party. Your child might inadvertently be placed in an unpleasant situation where he is offered these substances.

Advise your teens to be mindful and alert when they’re in such social occasions. Ask them never to accept drinks from strangers, and not to let their food and drinks out in the open, unattended. They shouldn’t be trusting too of people they had just met.

Set a curfew. This is another policy which must never be broken. Give a specific time as to when your teen is expected to be home.

Ensure that your teen has a safe and secure way of going home. If you are not bringing and picking up your teen to and from the event, make sure that he has a ride home. Also, remind your teen that it is absolutely okay for him to call you any time in case he needs a ride home. Assure him that it is not an inconvenience to you, and that his safety is your top priority.

Keep the communication lines open. Be open to your teen. Let him know that his safety is your primary concern, and the house rules are meant to keep him safe. Talk to him about drugs and alcohol, too. It’s necessary to create an open and honest environment where your teen can ask you questions about these topics without fear of reproach.

Give him a welcome hug when he gets home. Ask about the party, and if he had a good time.

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