Preparing for Summer with Teens

Although we are in the midst of summer, below is a helpful article on how to survive the summer with your teen.  Summer can be a great time for your teen to relax or get a job.  However, teens also have more free time in the summer which can lead to risky behavior.  Here are some tips on how you can help your teen this summer.  Enjoy! Article Title: Preparing for Summer with Teens

Author: Amity Chandler, former Drug Free Charlotte County (DFCC) Executive Director, Port Charlotte, FL

Article Date: May 29, 2013

At a recent community presentation of primarily retired individuals, I mentioned that we like to remind parents that have students at home during the summer to throw out the left-over liquor bottles from holiday celebrations. The retired individuals promptly noted that they would take those “donations,” as their children were already raised and out of the home. Whether you “donate” your lingering supply to a teen-free neighbor, or simply dump it, here are some tips to navigate summer with your teen: First, let’s debunk summer. There is nothing magical about it, except that teens tend to have more free time and there is a strong correlation between free time and risk-taking among teens. This could mean riding their bike into the pool, walking through the drive-thru, or an all-nighter of the Jersey Shore.  It could also mean the temptation to experiment with alcohol, marijuana or sexual activity. Short of locking them up, there is no silver bullet to prevent any of the above, and I often joke with my friends that as parents of teens, we have a 100% chance of something going awry. It does not however, have to be as a result of a lack of planning.

Plan 1. Throw out the left-over liquor bottles that are sitting around from the holiday parties. Bigger is not better in this case, and your teens weren’t hatched yesterday. If they’re going to experiment, it will be with the stuff you’re least likely to look at or touch. This also means old prescriptions and the cigarettes you might have quit a month ago. Also consider most Florida teens say when they drink they do so at another friend’s home. There is a parent somewhere that hasn’t gotten the’s time for us to start talking to the parents of our friends and asking direct questions, such as, does my teen have access to alcohol in your home? Worst-case scenario is you’ll embarrass your teen. Let’s just say it won’t be the first or last time.

Plan 2. Prepare for boredom. Actually, don’t fall victim to the “I’m bored” routine. Before you know it, they’ll be calling you on the phone while you’re at work asking to go to place A, with friend B, whom you’ve actually never met, but is a friend of friend C, whom you know quite well. And oh by the way, they’ll be home before you get home, and they’ll keep their cell phone on. Don’t get me wrong, I believe most teens are inherently honest and good – I am their biggest cheerleader. But I’ve noticed they can smell weakness. If they can get their otherwise logical parent who normally would insist on all facts and details with 24-hour notice to budge in this one moment, the door is open for compromise. Work with your teen to make plans in advance and stick with the 24-hour notice rule for activity outside of the home. If friend B is really that important to your teen, they’ll make plans within your guidelines.

Plan 3. A summer job is not a barrier to experimentation. In fact, in can be a gateway. Summer jobs are great for teaching responsibility, earning money and other life lessons. Summer jobs can also result in relationships between your teen and older, legal drinking-age individuals. Plan on talking to your teen about work relationships, new friends and your expectations of them while they are working for the summer, including curfews and work hours.

Plan 4. Plan for fun and down time. Endless surveys of teenagers show that they are often more worried, more stressed and more over-extended than any other teen generation that has come before them. Sleeping a few days away is not going to be the end of your bright-eyed sassy teenager. Hanging aimlessly at the beach with an approved list of friends may be just what they need to decompress and refocus. Plan in advance for ways that you and your teenager can do just that – relax. There is no need for summer vacation to be any more onerous than any other period should be while raising teens. At the end of the day, we’re still a parent, and they’re still a teenager. Have a safe, well-planned summer.

About Drug Free Charlotte County, 2012 Coalition of the Year Drug Free Charlotte County (DFCC) is a non-profit community organization based in Port Charlotte, Florida dedicated to reducing alcohol, tobacco and drug use among youths in Charlotte County. The coalition was founded in 2000 after a state survey indicated that Charlotte County had one of the highest underage usage rates in Florida. The coalition embarked on a mission to reduce these rates by conducting various social marketing campaigns in area schools and throughout the community, using primarily a social norms approach. Today, DFCC has succeeded in significantly reducing underage alcohol, tobacco and drug use in the county. In 2012, DFCC was recognized as the Coalition of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

We have various awareness campaigns available for licensing, including our popular Be theWall parent campaign! For more info, visit, email us ( or call Chrissy Bynum at(941) 255-0808, ext. 3205. All proceeds from the sale of these campaigns are used toward continuing our prevention efforts in Charlotte County.

Copyright 2013 Drug Free Charlotte County. Be the Wall is a registered trademark.

Lodi Teens and the Early Release

Over the last several weeks I have received emails and phone calls from concerned parents asking if the Lodi Community Action Team (LCAT) is also concerned with the early release schedule recently adopted by the School District of Lodi.  For those of you that may not have been informed yet, the Lodi School Board adopted the calendar and schedule for the 2013-14 school year including a two hour early release, every other Wednesday.  The specific question being asked is, “Aren't we concerned with having the community’s teenagers on the streets for two more hours, unsupervised?”  The simple answer is, “Yes, of course.  However, we are no more concerned than we already are about the time these kids have unsupervised time on the other days of the week between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m.” Before I explain LCAT’s position any further, let me explain that my family is also directly impacted by this schedule change.  We have one son who is starting high school next year and another starting kindergarten.  My wife and I both work outside of the Lodi community, which means this schedule change also has an impact on us, our family, and the time our teenager has unsupervised.  From a parent’s view, yes this schedule change is adding two additional hours of unsupervised time when our kid could take risks.  Is it an inconvenience?  Absolutely!  Does it concern me?  Absolutely!  However, this situation really isn’t any more or less of a parenting risk than we already take any other day of the week from 3 to 5 p.m.

So, we need to take a moment to educate ourselves.  Why is the district moving forward with this inconvenience schedule change?  This is what we have learned. Over the last several years the School District of Lodi, like many school districts, has been coping with ever decreasing state and federal funding, increased expenses, and new requirements from both the state and federal governments that require additional instruction for teachers and staff.  During this time, to mitigate some of the short falls, the district has made the difficult decision to reduce its employee count through non-renewals, cutting expenses, and eliminating programs.  Many of these have resulted with no additional monetary burden placed on the parents or tax payers of this community.

Starting in 2014, the state has increased the amount of in-service training required by the teaching staff, which has to be done during the regular schedule as there is no additional funding available for overtime.  With no funding for overtime and increased demand for teacher training, the only viable option was to use the time that teachers are already working.  So, here comes the hurt.  I suppose you can guess the ultimate result is that, as parents, we will pay a price of inconvenience, worry, and maybe extra daycare time for our younger kids, but most importantly our kids will pay a price of inconvenience, less instruction time, and more time to take risks.  I suppose the truth is, as parents and concerned advocates for our children, we need to take a more active role in voting and voicing our opinions to our legislatures.  Only when we get “skin in the game” will we be able to affect change.

So what is LCAT’s position on this issue?  It is unfortunate but true that we do not have alternatives.  Instead, we believe this is the perfect opportunity for the community to rally around our youth and create healthy opportunities for them to be engaged in during these hours when they will be alternatively unsupervised. We need the community to get “skin in the game” and provide organized, supported, and funded activities for these kids.  The School District is working with C.R.E.W. to make their facilities available after school activities.  The community needs to come together and volunteer, be a mentor, be a tutor and lead activities.  Churches should come together as a community and connect with more youth.  Parents should work together to create even more opportunities either with these other groups or just take turns to hang out or provide a safe “supervised” place for your kid and their friends to be when they would otherwise be unsupervised.  You see, when we come together and put “skin in the game,” think about what should be most important to you, the possibilities are endless.  Be a part of your community and help to create that ideal community that really cares about our youth.

As a parent of a teen who has unsupervised time, here are some things you can personally do:

  1. Teenagers are looking for some responsibility and some control.  Make sure you allow them some freedom and a healthy way to make some of their own choices.  You have to give them some praise, a pat on the back, and say, “Hey kid, I proud of you.”  Tell them when they do well.
  2. Make sure there are rules and guidelines.  Follow through on them.
  3. Give them structure and boundaries.  Make sure they have a standard check in time so you know exactly where they are, what they are doing, and very importantly, who they are with.
  4. Teens should always help with family chores.  We all tend to take more pride in something we ourselves have worked for.
  5. Set rules for how many, if any, friends can be together without parental supervision.
  6. Make certain that all medications, guns and alcohol are stored and locked in a responsible manner.  Even though you may trust your teenager, do you also hold that same level of trust in the friends they bring over?  Are you willing to risk their life on that trust?
  7. Create a web of adults who will look out for your teenager. Talk to your neighbors, friends, coaches and mentors.  Tell them you want to know if they notice when something is going on that is unlike your child.  Be in tune with all aspects and don’t be too quick to brush off a situation that arises.  Address these situations and open up a line of communication with your child.  Let them know that they are cared for by many.  They are valued.

Talking with Your Kids About Drugs

How do you talk with your kids about drugs?  This can be one of the hardest conversations you will have with your kids.  It's an extremely important conversation that needs to happen, but the thought of bringing it up can be overwhelming for parents.  You may wonder if you are saying the right things or how much information you should share.  Also, do you talk about your past if you have tried drugs? I recently stumbled across an article that talks about this issue.  The article suggests telling your kids the truth if they ask about your past but not to volunteer the information.  Make sure to point out the consequences of drug use and let them know you do not approve of using drugs.  To read the article, click here.  

Talking with Your Kids about Alcohol Use

As a parent of five girls, between the ages of 5 and 15, I find myself thinking very often about how I am communicating with my children about the things in life that matter the most. I also seem to be thinking back a lot to my own childhood, and reflecting on the ways that my parents communicated with me and my sisters as we were growing up. One issue that has become clear to me is that when I was a teenager, my parents were very involved in my life and I knew that they loved me, BUT they never once told me to avoid underage drinking or warned me of the dangers of drinking alcohol. What their avoidance of this topic caused for me was a sense that I had permission to take part in drinking with my friends in high school and college.

I remember my parents telling me stories of their drinking parties in college, BUT they never once told me that it was wrong and that they regretted it. Highlighting these memories is not for the purpose of criticizing my parents, but rather to remind me of what happened in my life because of it. It also encourages me to be incredibly mindful of the influence of what I say and don't say to my own children.

With all of our daughters, my husband, Mike, and I have been trying to have open communication, and sharing insights from our own growing up years as honestly as possible. It can sometimes feel awkward to approach challenging topics, but the advice I seem to hear often is that the more you can make an attempt at talking with your kids, the better.

Here are some tips from a website,, which is a great resource for research-based advice and tools for parents on a wide range of topics.

Lisa Lee

Talking with Your Kids about Alcohol Use

It’s important to start communicating with your child about your values and beliefs as early as possible. By maintaining open and honest communication, you can help your children feel comfortable talking with you about difficult issues, such as alcohol use and peer pressure.

Don’t wait for your children to bring up alcohol—use advertisements, news stories, or personal incidents to raise the issue before it becomes a problem. Ask your child what he thinks about the alcohol use he sees on TV, in movies, or among his friends. Point out advertisements that target teens. Talk about your views on underage alcohol use and ask your child what he thinks about it as well.

During the high school years, many kids begin to think they’re old enough for sex, drugs, or alcohol. Talk to your child about how she defines maturity and when she thinks individuals are old enough to engage in these activities. Be clear about why you think she should wait until she’s older and which values your opinions represent.

Talk to your kids at least weekly about the peer pressure they experience or see at school and in their social groups. Some children are more comfortable talking about what they witness, so be patient if your child doesn’t want to talk about his experiences right away. It’s much easier for some kids to talk about what they see before they talk about what they experience.

If you consumed alcohol as a teenager, be honest with your children if they ask about it. Tell them about the consequences you faced.

Talking with your kids about alcohol use isn’t always easy. But it’s important to start the conversation early so you can teach your child the necessary skills to resist alcohol when he or she is faced with a tough decision. Begin talking today so your child’s first lessons about alcohol are from you—and not her or his friends.

Our Youths Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials


America's Youth Have Voted!

Number of sixth through twelfth grade students across the nation participating in this year’s Big Bowl Vote: 40,000 (and counting)

Number of participating states: 42

Top 10 FAVORITE Commercials

Middle School Students (6th-8th grade)

1. M&M’s: Just My Shell

2. Doritos: Dog Buries Cat

3. Doritos: Sling Shot Baby

4. Bud Light: Rescue Dog Wego

5. Skechers: Dog Race

6. Coca-Cola: Fingers Crossed

8. Chevy: Apocolypse

9. VW: Dog Strikes Back

10. Dannon: John Stamos

High School Students (9th-12th grade)

1. M&M’s: Just My Shell

2. Doritos: Dog Buries Cat

3. Doritos: Sling Shot Baby

4. Bud Light: Rescue Dog Wego

5. Skechers: Dog Race

6. Chevy: Apocolypse

7. VW: Dog Strikes Back

8. Dannon: John Stamos

9. E*Trade: Fatherhood

10. Coca-Cola: Nice Catch

Top 10 Most RECALLED Commercials

Middle School Students (6th-8th grade)

1. Doritos

2. M&M’s

3. Bud Light

4. Coca-Cola

5. Pepsi

6. Chevy

7. NFL

8. Movie Trailers

9. GoDaddy

10. E*Trade

High School Students (9th-12th grade)

1. Doritos

2. Bud Light

3. M&M’s

4. Coca-Cola

5. Chevy

6. Pepsi

7. Skechers

8. E*Trade

9. VW

10. GoDaddy

Neilsen reports that a record-breaking 111.3 million viewers watched this year’s Super Bowl. Also, according to Neilsen, about half of those viewers likely tuned in more for the high-priced commercials ($3.5 million per 30 second slot) than the game itself.

While snacks beat out beverages and a candy treat took top spot, alcohol once again surfaced as a Big Bowl Vote favorite; appealing to both middle and high school students.

What does this mean? Research reveals that young people are drawn to advertising that features animal and people characters, tells a story and makes them laugh. If the target demographic for M&M’s is middle and high school aged youth, the advertiser was right on mark. What tween/teen wouldn’t appreciate a comedic chocolate character, who breaks into dance to, “I’m sexy and I know it,” a song that is all the rage among youth right now?

But what about the cute little rescue pup who fetches beer for his owner’s pool party guests? Wouldn’t the obviously savvy advertisers surely realize this too would be appealing to underage Americans?  Of course they did.

Does this mean more kids will now start drinking alcohol because they liked the ad? Maybe. According to a study where researchers investigated alcohol advertising to learn what makes it attractive to youth; the alcohol ads that young people found to be appealing were more likely to elicit responses from them saying they wanted to purchase the brand and products advertised.We also know that the more youth are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to drink (drink to excess and drink more often). Research clearly indicates that while parents and peers have significant influence on a child’s decision to drink, so too does alcohol advertising and marketing.

“Though the Super Bowl itself is likely gone from most young people’s thoughts, the commercials will linger on, as they continue to pop up on our televisions and computers for months to come,” says Marcie Seidel, Drug Free Action Alliance Executive Director. “While we cannot possibly shield our children from every alcohol advertisement, we can make it a Teachable Moment, by helping them to decode the message through Media Literacy.”

Whether they are tuning in to their favorite TV show, listening to their iPod or socializing online, youth are flooded with a mix of media messages every day. Simply put, Media Literacy is the ability to read between the lines to recognize the influence of media messages. Children who are media literate can look and listen with a critical eye and ear, helping them to make healthier lifestyle choices and avoid the pressures fueled by media messages to drink, smoke or use other drugs.

PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO TRY THIS: Watch any TV show with your tween/teen. When the commercials come on, ask your child to pay close attention, then pose these questions to help decode the message:

·         Who do you think created this commercial?

·         What techniques did they use to get your attention?

·         What do they want you to do after seeing their message?

·         Would this be a healthy choice for you?

·         Do you think your health and safety are important to the ad sponsor?

·         How do you feel about it now?

Another great opportunity for a similar conversation is in the car with a captive audience. When an advertisement comes on the radio, listen together and then break it down to figure out the real message.

It doesn’t have to be an alcohol advertisement to be a learning experience. The key is to teach your child that no matter the product being promoted, there is an advertiser with an intended message. It is up to your child to think critically to interpret that message and apply it to his/her life appropriately.

For additional information and resources, please visit Drug Free Action Alliance

Sources: DFAA Big Bowl Vote, Neilsen Company, Center for Media Literacy. M.J. Chen, J.W. Grube, M. Bersamin, E. Waiters, and D.B. Keefe, "Alcohol Advertising: What Makes It Attractive to Youth?," Journal of Health Communication, 2005.

Big Bowl Vote Contact: Michelle Morse (614) 540-9985 x14

Yard Signs

It is that time again to start our Parents Who Host Yard Sign campaign.   You have probably noticed signs going up around town and wished you had one of your own to put up in your yard.   Well, the good news is that we have plenty would be happy to drop by and put it up for you.  If you would like a sign, just drop an email to or call 608-566-5614.  We are looking for people in high traffic areas and areas out of the City of  Lodi, but we have enough for everyone.