Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 7:32 pm | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Summer’s Here ... So, Now What?

Keeping kids busy is the key to keeping them out of trouble.

Summer is here and school is out, which means plenty of free leisure time and idle hands for many children.

Research shows that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and teens. Not only do they experience learning loss by 2.6 months of their grade level equivalency, they are also more likely to use alcohol and drugs or engage in criminal and other-high risk behaviors. Studies show that thousands of students try marijuana for the first time during summer break. In addition, 24 percent of teenagers report having their first alcoholic drinks while on summer vacation. First use of cigarettes among teens also jumps during the summer, according to a 2007 Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration report.

Parents can and do make a difference in a child’s decision to stay drug-free. They can help teens be drug-free by closely supervising their time, knowing who they are with and setting clear rules. In addition, parents can also help by involving them in supervised activities such as day camps.

According to the Education Department, the best summer programs share the following common elements:

» Goal-setting, strong management and sustainability

» Quality staffing

» Attention to safety, health and nutrition issues

» Effective partnerships with community-based organizations, juvenile-justice agencies, law enforcement and your groups

» Strong involvement of families

» Enriching learning of families

Enrolling in the United Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department can make a big difference in keeping kids and teens off drugs and alcohol this summer. Click here for Noozhawk’s Summer Camp Guide.

“Going to supervised activities not only help our youth continue develop their learning abilities, but it also keeps them away from drugs and alcohol,” said Penny Jenkins, executive director of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Jasmine Rara is the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse‘s media and special events coordinator.

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