Talking to parents of adolescents today often includes the lament that “We just don’t know what to do, we never experienced this kind of problem when we were kids."
Today’s youth face a host of problems that their parents never had to deal with while they were growing up. The most obvious example is the almost total integration of the Internet into the daily life of kids. Even for kids who don’t have their own personal computer or smartphone, schools, libraries, and friends with access provide opportunities to gain entry to the Web. This single change has delivered unparalleled access to information as well as some unanticipated problems such as the ability to post detailed personal and family information, cyber-bullying, and the possibility of exposure to Internet predators to name just a few.
Add to this easier access to drugs, many of which are unfamiliar to parents, earlier exposure to sexual themes on TV, movies, magazines and the Internet, and increased demands from peers for conformity. With all of this information so easily available, many parents feel ill prepared to guide their kids through this maze of influences that have the potential to disrupt the life of kids, their relationships with parents, and even bring them face to face with the juvenile justice system.
Although this situation may be frustrating, parents still want to provide support and guidance to their kids. So what’s a parent to do? The good news is that there is a wealth of services available to parents. Nearly every community in the U.S. has a well-developed network of timely and relevant resources directed at parents. These resources address nearly every possible problem a parent might face in dealing with their kids.
Good places to start for general advice are informational websites directed at parents. A good example is the Love and Logic site. Here you can find information on reducing the stress and increasing fun while raising responsible kids. The site is searchable by topic and arranged by the child’s age. There are sites for single parents such as Single Family Voices that provide support and advice for single parents, step parents, and blended family parenting. Another great general information site is Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships. This program works with the local school system and community partners to provide programs for teens and articles for both teens and parents. Start Strong has sites across the country to ensure the programs and articles are relevant to area teens and their parents.
Most counties also have informational sites dedicated to providing assistance for families in identifying mental and behavioral health resources. If you are looking for information that is more local to you, try typing your county’s name into your browser’s search engine. Chances are very good you will find a list of additional useful sites.
Parents may also need to learn more about the juvenile justice system. Again there are national and local resources online. A few of the most frequently used sites are the Juvenile Justice Fund, the Children’s Aid Society, the Children’s Defense Fund and, of course, the site you are currently viewing, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.
This list of sources is certainly not meant to be comprehensive. There are many more resources available online. What you have here is a good starting point. If you visit any of these sites you will find links to multiple other sites that will allow you to further refine your search and find information on exactly the topic of interest to you and your family. Using the sites presented here will more likely direct you to reliable and professional sites than a random search of the Internet.
What about parents who don’t have regular access to the Internet or aren’t very familiar or comfortable with this information gathering technique? Here again, most communities come to the rescue. If there is a local library nearby, you can usually get on the Internet there. In most cases, someone in the library can help you develop your online searching skills.
Whether you are an expert or a novice at using the Internet, your kids are. I hope you will take advantage of some of the really excellent information, services, and advice available to you from these sources and the many others on worldwide web. Happy Hunting!