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Stay safe after graduation

This week as our local schools hold graduations, we do not want our teens to toss out safety precautions along with their mortarboard. Parents should take extra care to prepare their children for the celebrations ahead, especially when it comes to alcohol and drugs.

The proof is in the numbers. According to the Century Council, a group that educates about the effects of alcohol, there were nearly 1,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in May and June 2004 — the peak of graduation season — among those under the age of 21.

Here are some tips to help keep your children safe during graduation season and beyond.

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Make sure your grad has a plan for the evening and that you know it. Set a curfew.

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Monitor the alcohol in your home. You don’t want to be the access point for your child’s alcohol consumption.

Plus it's a crime to provide it to your child.

n Make sure you know who is driving. If your child is driving, make sure the car’s engine, tires and brakes are in good condition and insist passengers wear seat belts. Better yet, drive them yourself. It’s important that teens understand that they should never get into a car with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs, no matter who he or she is. Tell him to feel free to call home and ask for someone to pick him up at any time, no questions asked.

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Be aware of the local &uot;hot spots.&uot; If you lose track of your child, you’ll know of some places to look for him or her.

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Speak with the parents of your child’s friends. If you’re worried that alcohol may be at a party, discuss your fears with the host’s parents. You can refuse to let your teen attend if the parents ignore your concerns.

n Most importantly, make sure your teen understands that it’s okay to say no to any activity that makes him or her feel uncomfortable.

With parties a plenty during this time, it may be impossible to watch out for teens every minute of every evening, but parents can take time to talk with their young graduate about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and help them make wise decisions when out with friends.