As parents you want to keep your children safe, even more so when they become teenagers and venture out to explore the world, have fun and be with their friends. That’s when most parents truly begin to worry, wondering if they’ve done enough to prepare their offspring for the many dangers associated with use of alcohol and drugs that seem to be everywhere. As the Independence Day holiday approaches, here’s a look at the top five places your teen probably shouldn’t be on 4th of July:
Why is Chicago singled out as a top destination for teens to steer clear of? It isn’t that we have anything against the Windy City, but an investigative report by National Geographic, “Drugs, Inc.: Sin-Dependence,” (which airs Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel) shows that crime in Chicago is expected to be off the charts this July 4th, with rampant drug use and too many risks for teens to be anywhere near. Some highlights from the previews include:
- MDMA will be in hot demand at one drug dealer’s block party.
- Gang members feel free to shoot guns at intended victims under cover of fireworks.
- Huge profits are expected to be made from cocaine, especially crack cocaine.
- They’re looking to score, and stick-up crews will be prowling neighborhoods ready to rip off whatever (and whomever) they can.
- Money, marijuana and mischief
#2: Las Vegas
The original “sin city,” Las Vegas has long been a mecca for travelers in search of adventure. Even the advertising slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” seems to invite breaking the rules. The facts are that crime against persons is on the rise in Las Vegas and environs, and this is no place for teens to hang out over the July 4th holiday. Better to stick closer to home and get involved with family festivities and get-togethers — although parents will need to be fairly creative to come up with a plan the teens won’t find boring. The idea is to keep teens safe from alcohol and drug use, so do whatever you can to ensure this positive outcome.
#3: Any Rave
The word “rave” itself is every parent’s nightmare — as well it should be. Thousands of young people, many too young to be out late at night unsupervised, let alone at a location with partiers doing all sorts of drugs, congregate to listen to pulse-pounding techno and other popular music, be with their friends, get high and dance until they wind up exhausted, overdosing, hallucinating or suffer a litany of other ill effects. What drugs are passed out, bought and sold, consumed and offer potentially fatal results at raves? The list includes MDMA (ecstasy or Molly, a purer form of ecstasy), LSD, psilocybin mushrooms (hallucinogenic ‘shrooms), marijuana, synthetic marijuana (K2, spice, flakka) and more.
#4: Any Unsupervised Party
Teens may be quite adroit at telling fibs when it comes to where they’re going and what they’ll be doing, including with whom, on any given weekend. When it’s a big holiday weekend like July 4th, parents should be especially attuned to the answers given. It’s not prying to check up with a friend that your teen is supposed to be spending the day or night with, or to offer to drive your teen to the destination, arrange certain times to call and check in, or in some other ways to monitor what your teen is doing. The fact is that underage drinking is a huge problem at any party of teens that’s unsupervised. Not only alcohol, but also any number of drugs may be on hand at the party, passed out like so many pieces of candy or a party hors d’oeuvre.
#5: Music Festivals and Beach Parties Where Alcohol and Drugs Are
While they’re completely different in nature — as well as being set in nature, of course — music festivals and beach parties should also be off the list for teens on the 4th of July. There are similar reasons for the exclusion, which will no doubt elicit howls of displeasure from your teen, but the cautions are valid.
- Alcohol use is rampant at both.
- Presence of hard drugs is everywhere, taken openly and surreptitiously.
- Your teen may be unaware that they’ve been “dosed” with a dangerous drug until it’s too late.
- Emergency services may be unavailable or not get there in time to reverse the effects of a drug overdose or tend to emergency medical help that may be required.
What’s a Parent to Do?
When approaching a conversation with your teen about what to do this Independence Day, try to come up with a creative solution. Don’t just leave it to chance or think that everyone will just hang out at home and watch the fireworks from the backyard (if you’re lucky enough to live in a location where this is possible) or on TV. Teens don’t like boring, especially when their friends are planning to go someplace exciting. (Translation: anywhere other than home with their parents.) If at all possible, plan a family trip where you know exactly where your teen is at all times (with the family). A lakeside cabin, mountain resort, a bicycling or hiking trip — you get the idea. Besides having the comfort of knowing your teen is safe, you’ll also have the opportunity to make some wonderful family memories.