Summer Safety

Summer is almost here, children are celebrating, and parents are groaning. What will the children do? This is a major concern for parents.

With the combination of too much idle/unsupervised time, high impulsivity and poor decision making skills, summers are particularly risky for teenagers. They are curious about the most dangerous things, and foolish enough to try those things.

I'm not writing about typical summer dangers such as, swimming accidents, broken legs and arms from sports or horseplaying, lyme's disease. I'm talking about children becoming a victim of crime, or being the victimizer in a crime.

Traditionally crime increases in the summer. Already in St. Louis, during the preceding week of Mother's Day Weekend, there were five murders, involving young men.

Individuals were leaving a carnival, when a car sped through the crowd. Young men who were crossing the street yelled at the driver. The driver pulled the car to a stop. He and passengers in the car got out, to confront the young men who were walking. The young men pulled out guns and started shooting. Right there in a crowd. Bystanders were caught in the middle of the shooting. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Summer isn't even here yet.

Allowing teenagers to have days and days of unstructured, unsupervised time is a mistake parents. I know that teenagers "should" be able to supervise themselves; most are capable of self supervision. If you know that your child is a victimizer, please find a boot camp for him. If your child is a follower, and is susceptible to following someone else into victimizing others, get him away from the poor influences that are surrounding him - by whatever means necessary.

While you can't lock teens up to keep them out of trouble, please be proactive, and find something for them to do.

Here are some ideas that may be helpful:

1. Help them find full time jobs, if jobs aren't paid, volunteer work is always available.

2. What about sport camps, and community programs?

3. What about a babysitter? Yes a babysitter.

If you have to, please spend your last penny and put distance between them and poor influences. They will complain, they will gripe, but you may save their lives and futures; you may save other people's lives and futures.

I recently heard about a mother who's son was caught on camera robbing someone at gunpoint. How embarrassing... there he was face directly in the camera. She took a bold step and turned him in to the police. Kudos to her.

This mother understands; something has to change. She had to make a hard decision, but this may be the experience this young man needs to make a change in his life.

We want change in our communities and nation. To get that change, we will have to pay a price. In this mother's case, the price was a hard decision. I hope her son's experience was enough for him to make different decisions in the future. Her price was only a decision to turn him in. Too often the price is lives. The life of the victim when they are killed and the life of the victimizer, when they are imprisoned.

Everybody wants peace and safety at home, in the community and in the schools. Peace and safety comes with a price; we must pay the price in the home first. We can't afford to put on blinders and not see criminal activity, or the criminals our children are involved with. If you see the problem, get help, be extreme.

Ignore people telling you it's not that serious. Only you will show up for court, pay bail money, or visit a prison regularly; or you will suffer the most at a funeral for your child. This is a battle, and it's not just for your child's life, but for their futures as well.

I love summer. I love safe summers more. May this summer be safe and healthy for all of us.

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