Vaping at School: Teen Perspective

Vaping has become an epidemic in HCPSS schools. From foggy cars to locked bathrooms, not a day goes by where I don’t see another reminder of this growing trend. First, it was cars. Then, it was the bathrooms. Now, students are taking hits from their Juul or vape pen in the middle of the classroom. I even once found a Juul laying under my lunch table! It seems like everyone has tried it. While there are plenty of valid legal and health concerns with it, the most troublesome aspect of it for me personally has got to be the consistently locked bathrooms. I don’t have time to traverse the school searching for a bathroom that isn’t fogged up! Schools need to crack down on this harmful, annoying practice, and get it out of county schools.

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

At HC DrugFree's recent Teen Advisory Council (TAC) meeting, high school teens discussed what they would tell their younger self entering 9th grade. Here are their answers:

Drugs including alcohol have never made a teen's life better or easier.

Don't stress about everything. Relax. Stressing is a waste of time.

Start a club to get others to join you in doing what you like to do.

While they matter, grades don't matter as much as you think.

Be open to making new friends and don't be quick to judge others.

Friends will not stay the same throughout high school years. 

Choose friends wisely because they will influence your choices. 

Make a good impression on others (especially teachers and adults who might provide reference letters).

Don't be afraid to ask for help (especially from teachers).

Don't procrastinate. Have better time management skills.

Find healthy ways to deal with stress such as exercising or getting more sleep.

Study in advance of tests.

Don't party as much.

Drugs (including alcohol) make teens focus on the wrong things such as getting more drugs.

Know your family history about drugs and alcohol before you try them.

Don't do drugs (including alcohol)!!!

Avoid the "bad school bathroom" where teens use drugs.

I've never met a drug dealer who wasn't caught so don't deal or buy drugs.

Don't let peers/friends influence you to do something you usually would not do.

Don't make bad decisions that will impact your life and reputation.

Have fun, but know your limits.

Don't stay up too late doing homework and studying. 

Do your homework in the morning when you're fresh.

Know the Good Samaritan Law so you can help others and stay out of trouble.

Don't stay tied down to relationships just to have a high school sweetheart. 

Dating is not worth the time or drama. 

Support your friends during dating breakups even when you want to say you warned them.

Social media spreads information to everyone so there are no secrets.

Get a job and make money for what you want rather than wasting time on what you don't want.

Don't get into fights over dating relationships. 

Try to read people better and avoid fake people. 

Make upperclassman friend.

Drugs and alcohol are not worth it.

Bucket List Challenge - Summer 2017

Bucket lists are goals and activities that you hope to accomplish throughout your life. I love bucket lists and use them as a way to keep track of all the things I want to do. Nothing feels better than being able to cross an adventure or goal off the list once you have completed it! 

My friends and I would get super creative with our bucket lists and make ones that were just for summer. This helped us always have something to do, stay out of trouble, and feel good about ourselves once we completed something on the list.

15 examples to put on your bucket list for summer ’17:

1.       Clean out your closet and donate everything you don’t wear to a local homeless shelter.

2.       Make at least three (new) homemade meals a week and eat them with your friends or family.

3.       Go to the library, make a summer reading list and read them.

4.       Try all the Italian ice flavors at Rita’s.

5.       Go jogging every morning and increase your distance each time (health-related goals are easiest to measure when given a time period).

6.       Find somewhere to volunteer. The animal shelter, library, homeless shelter, food banks, Grassroots, Robinson Nature Center, etc. There are so many options in Howard County.

7.       Spend as much time as you can outside. Read outside, take your workout routine outside, lay out by the pool, or take your dog for a walk. Vitamin D is important!

8.       Get a job just for the summer. Making money, making new friends, and helping out the community is a win-win-win!

9.       Go to the state parks and national parks in the Maryland, Virginia and surrounding areas for family hiking days.

10.   If you have the chance to go on vacation you can add things like parasailing, running on the beach once a day, or having a contest to see who can open the most crabs.

11.   Play card games, finish a book of crosswords and word searches, or play Mad Libs with friends.

12.   Family/friend game night once a week and each person bring a board game.

13.   Start one of those big puzzles.

14.   Buy an adult coloring book and some gel pens (so fun!)

15.   Join HC DrugFree for Summer 2017 Teen us for more information!

Excitement in Gambling

What is gambling? I only associated gambling with casinos, but lately I’ve heard that any activity that includes risk of losing something of value is considered gambling. So that includes placing a dollar into the pot and playing a game of pool to see who wins.

Now that I think about, that means I probably "gamble" 2-3 times a month. Of course, when we have to pay up, no one pays up; therefore no one loses any money and it’s all fun and games.

The only time I’ve lost money “gambling” was at a hockey tournament. After a hard, fought game, my teammates and I decided to play a friendly game of poker. Each person put $5 for a total of $55 in the pot, and the winner would take all. The game started at 10:00 pm.

I was not very experienced at poker, but learned as the game went along. As soon as the first person lost, I got excited that I was still in the game. As the game progressed, I got better and better. Four and a half hours later, two people were left and I was one of them. I was only one person away from winning the $55. I had a significant lead, but with some rash decisions and over-confidence, I lost the next few hands. I ended up losing… This experience really allowed me to feel that adrenaline rush from almost winning all $55, and then taking it all away from me. No matter how close you may be to winning money, there’s always that chance in losing it all. Now I think about that risk before betting my money in any way.  

New Friends, New Pressure

As school starts, we will all be making some new friends. You might only talk to them during school hours at first, but in a few months, you might find yourself hanging out with them over weekends or after school. Little did you know that when you fist meet him or her that he or she does drugs and drinks alcohol. You later find yourself in a position where your friend offers you and your other friends a beer. It's very easy to fall into peer pressure because you see other people drinking around you and they try to force you to drink. You have to stay true to your beliefs and practices and not accept the beer. If you truly believe in not drinking and that everything has its own time and place, you just need to not accept it and maybe reconsider hanging out with these friends. 

Don't Want to Break Parents' Trust

Sometimes I wonder about how teens are able to do drugs or drink alcohol without thinking about their parents. Parents do everything for us, teens, so that we can have a better childhood/life than they did. I'm sure most parents disapprove of their teens using drugs and drinking alcohol. I personally know that if I did either of those and my parents found out, I would be in a lot of trouble. Not only am I doing drugs or drinking alcohol, but I'm also breaking my parents trust in me. I'm so grateful that my parents have a lot of trust in me, and I can't imagine breaking that trust with them. 

Summer Fun

It's summer and I want to have fun. Not all teens will party this summer. Many of us will work, hang out with friends, go on vacation with our families or just relax. I'll be with my older brother and parents a lot this summer so they won't allow me to get in trouble. I guess it's good to have them keep an eye on me.

Before High School Ends, I Want to...

“go to a real party”

“get wasted”

“be in the ‘in’ crowd”

“get high”

“go to a prom party”

Why do high school students have these goals?  Around adults, their goals are to get an A on that Chem test and to get into their favorite college.  Around their friends, their goals do a complete 360 degree turn.  These goals are, in part, provoked by the media’s perception of high school students.  The media normalizes teen drug use and teen sex.  The media perpetuates the idea that underage drinking is “cool”, and rarely ever suggests that there will be serious repercussions; if there are repercussions, they are almost always “one night in jail” or a “lecture from the parents.”  In real life, however, drug use and underage drinking all too often result in DUIs and manslaughter.  People waste away in jail because they saw in a “classic teen movie” that it was cool to drink at a party.  Their parents go to jail because a party was held at their house.  It’s not cool to drink underage.  It’s not cool to go to a party with drinking.  It’s not cool to distribute drugs.  It’s irresponsible, and it’s irresponsible for American media to glorify this behavior.


10 High School Party Tips for Parents

This list was created by Howard County teens for parents of other teens:

1. Make sure there is an adult at all parties.

2. Give your child a way to communicate with you during the party in case things go wrong.

3. Create/practice a “safe code” (a secret word or phrase) for when your child is in an uncomfortable situation and needs to let you know to come get them. (Parents, ask HC DrugFree’s staff to help you create a secret code if you do not have one or understand why this is important!).

4.  Set a reasonable curfew and stick to it.

5. Have your child take their own drink with them so they have something to hold/drink other than the alcohol offered at the party.

6. Go through your kid’s room while they are away to look for any drugs.

7. Look through their phones for evidence of drug use/dealing. 

8. Don't allow your teen to attend parties when their grades are bad.

9. Help your children to have friends. 

10. Give your kid a debit card instead of extra cash so they can’t buy drugs and you can see their expenses.

Where would you be now?

Just a few weeks ago I was riding the bus home; as usual, I was sitting by myself, exhausted from yet another long week of hard work, waiting to be dropped off at my stop so I could get a start on my homework before I had to hurry to practice.  There were three or four kids sitting behind me: people I recognize from the hallways, but never really talk to.  They were talking about homecoming, which had been that past Saturday.  I didn’t mean to “eavesdrop,” I just happened to be sitting there, and rather overheard their conversation.  At the beginning of the conversation they talked about their dates for homecoming, which seemed like a relatively innocent topic.  The conversation very quickly escalated to the exciting after parties, which prompted a discussion about how long the high lasted from ingested marijuana versus inhaled, and how one of them called their friend at 3 AM, the morning after homecoming, in a drunken haze.

The colloquialism with which they spoke shocked me.  How could high school students be so casual about their use of illicit drugs and their participation in illegal activities?  How could they so blatantly brag about their 24 hour-high, or their parents’ disappointment?  How could students so willingly sacrifice their given opportunities to drugs?  Then again, I’ve never really experienced this type of community.  I’ve led a relatively sheltered life thus far, and can’t fully comprehend the ends to which others will go for a “good time.”  This certain experience struck me, however.  How do good parents plus good communities plus good school systems plus good students equal drugs? 

Before you dismiss the idea that this was a one case scenario, think about the people you know, think about yourself.  If you had grown up with different friends, if you had grown up in a different school system, if you had grown up with different opportunities: where would you be now?  --  from a Howard County teen