Sue Scheff: Prevent Teen Violence



Violence among kids and teens has made headlines in South Florida this week. As parents, educators and others that work with today’s children, we need to take steps to help prevent these violent incidents.



Communication is key, however difficult. It starts at home, what can you as a parent do to help? As a Parent Advocate, I have always encouraged parents to get to know who your teen’s friends are, who are they hanging out with? Not only in school but online! Where is your child surfing in space? Do you know the websites they are frequently visiting? It is time to be an educated parent which can lead to a safer teen.

Here are some quick tips to think about and put into action:
• Get to know your teen’s friends. Take an interest in them. Ask them about their siblings and their parents. Do they have the same hobbies/interests as your teen?


• Take the time to call the parents, introduce yourself. If your child is spending time with their child, I am confident they will appreciate getting to know you too.


• Join your school’s PTA or PTO, get involved! Take an interest in your teen’s activities and learn more about what your school has to offer.


• Get to know your teen’s teachers. All of them. Make time for teacher conferences even if your child is doing well. Don't forget first and foremost, know your teen's guidance counselor. Make an appointment to introduce yourself, don't wait for that first call that may not start off on a positive note.


• Encourage your teen to become active in community service, sports, school clubs, any constructive activity will help build their self esteem and point them in a positive direction.• As difficult as it is today, try to have family dinner at least 3 times a week. Take the time to ask about their school day, their studies, and their extra-curriculum.


• Does your child spend a lot of time online? Find out what their interests are and who they are connecting with. I am not against Internet use; however we need to be aware of what our children are doing in cyberspace. Unfortunately it is still unregulated, so even an educated parent needs to always be aware of their teens computer use. Refer to the story of Kristin Helms and understand her mother was very proactive in protecting her child. This is not to scare you, but to let you know how serious an issue this is.


• If you notice your teen is becoming withdrawn, depressed, spending more time alone, failing in school, losing interest in their favorite activities, etc. Get outside help. Find an adolescent therapist. Don’t allow these feelings to escalate into rage and violence or worse.
I know many of the tips above require time that many parents don’t have.

I understand, especially since I was a single parent raising two kids, we are exhausted, burned out and stressed out, however it is still not an excuse to MAKE THE TIME to talk with your kids and MAKE THE TIME to talk to the parents of their friends, as well as finding at least one meeting a month to attend for the PTA or PTO. Getting involved today may prevent problems tomorrow.
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