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Personal Safety

Parents need to be sensitive to their teenager lives and the challenges they face. Making friends and dating and negotiating the many physical, emotional and social changes keep many teens from feeling their best. Many teens feel badly about themselves in some way: maybe he doesn't like his skinny arms and wishes he had made the soccer team or maybe she wishes she had a smaller nose and was a faster swimmer.

Many teens suffer from low self-esteem or believing they aren't good enough. Low self-esteem can lead some teens to make unhealthy decisions such as joining a gang , doing drugs, having casual sex, or trying to hurt or even kill themselves. Talking and listening to your teen might provide the support she needs to get through the teen years. Other teens may need additional help from a health care provider, counsellor or professional to get through the teen years safely.

It is very important to talk to your teen about partying and staying safe. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to drink alcohol, yet many teens do drink underage. It is a good idea to tell your teen that at any time, day or night, you will come and get him if he does not have a safe ride home. Tell her that you will not yell, punish or discuss her actions until the next day. If your teen does make the smart choice and calls you when she doesn't have a safe ride home, make sure you tell her that she made the right and responsible decision to not drive or ride with someone who is intoxicated.

Additionally, talk to your teen about staying safe when drinking alcohol. Many people are sexually assaulted while drunk or passed out. It is a good idea to talk to your teen about his safety. Maybe it is as simple as always staying with a friend or group of friends. Whatever you decide, come up with a plan together that will help to keep him safe.

Dating is another area that causes many parents to worry. If you are worried, remember that many parents have lived through these feelings and experiences. With dating comes sexuality, strong emotions and the possibility of pressure, violence and low self-esteem. It is a great idea to speak to your teen about respecting his body and himself as well as his date's body and opinions.

Respectful relationships are when both people feel comfortable, happy and can grow together. Tell your teen how to show respect for his partner and ask him about his relationships. He may not want to tell you much but keeping the lines of communication open will increase his comfort if he does need to talk to you in the future.

Some teens may be hanging around friends or groups that make poor choices – things that might get them into trouble in school, the workplace or with the law. Try to meet your teen's friends and ask about their hobbies and interests. If you are concerned about your teen, try to get her involved in other activities that give her an opportunity to excel and belong. Speak to your teen about her feelings, her friends and her life.

If you believe that your teen is thinking about suicide, cutting his body or harming himself in any way, speak to a counsellor, doctor or professional who can help. It's also a good idea to talk to your teen about his feelings and thoughts. Tell your teen how important and wonderful he is to you, his friends and family. Your teen needs to know that you love him, that dark times pass, and that you will help him get through this time.

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