Keep Kids Safe and Sober This Summer
By Mary Pat Angelini
Did you know that more young people try alcohol for the first time during the summer months than at any other time of the year?
Keeping teens occupied and supervised helps to ensure they have a safe summer. By involving teens in a variety of alcohol-free activities – such as sports, summer camps and outdoor recreational activities – you can help prevent underage drinking.
Here are a few other tips for busy families to consider for the summer months and beyond:
Establish and maintain good communication with your child. Get into the habit of talking with your child every day. Building a close relationship with your child when they are young will make it easier for them to come to you when they have a problem. With a closer relationship to you, they will be less likely to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs.
Get involved in your child’s life – it really does make a difference! Young people are much less likely to have substance use problems when they have positive activities to do and when caring adults are involved in their lives. Your involvement and encouragement tell your children that they and their activities are worthwhile. Additionally, you will be better able to see changes in your child that may indicate a problem.
Make clear, sensible rules for your child and enforce them with consistent and appropriate consequences. By doing this, you help your child develop daily habits of self-discipline. Following these rules can help protect your child’s physical safety and mental wellbeing, which can lower their risk for substance abuse problems. Some rules, such as “Respect Your Elders,” apply to all ages, but many will vary depending on your child’s age and level of development.
Set a good example for your child through your own behavior. Think about what you say and how you act in front of them. Your child learns social skills and how to deal with stress by listening to and watching you. Do not take part in illegal, unhealthy or dangerous practices related to alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs or they may believe that, no matter what you say, these practices are OK.
Support your child’s social development by teaching your child how to form positive relationships. Research shows that the pressure to use tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs comes most often from wanting to be accepted, wanting to belong, and wanting to be noticed. Help your child learn what qualities to look for in a friend, and advise them about what to say if offered harmful substances.
Find out what your child is listening to and how they are spending time with their friends. Talking with your child about their interests opens up an opportunity for you to share your values. And research says that monitoring your child’s activities is an important way to lower their chances of getting involved in situations you don’t approve of, especially those that can be harmful. Unsupervised children simply have more opportunities to experiment with risky behaviors, including the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, and they may start substance abuse at earlier ages.
Prevention First invites you to stop by and visit our resource center for free information on parenting and many other related topics. Call us at 732-663-1800 ext. 216 or visit us at 1405 Route 35 North in Ocean Township or in our Barnegat office at 848 West Bay Avenue or on the web at www.preventionfirst.net.
Mary Pat Angelini is the executive director and CEO of Prevention First, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of Monmouth and Ocean counties’ children by teaching them how to make healthy, responsible decisions.
How About ‘NJ Senate Survivor’ to Determine the Democrat’s Nominee
By Patrick Murray
Last week’s Monmouth University poll showed Newark Mayor Cory Booker with a daunting lead in the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination contest. It also found few avenues of opportunity for his rivals to peel away that support.
Can this contest become more competitive? Probably not by using traditional attack strategies, such as:
“Booker lacks the experience to be effective in Washington.” Democratic primary voters disagree.
“Booker’s support of policies like school vouchers shows that he’s out of step with core Democratic values.” Who says? Many Democratic voters themselves support vouchers.
“Booker is more show horse than workhorse.” He may be a celebrity, but voters believe that he brings both style and substance to the table.
There is no question that Cory Booker’s national fame is key to his formidable lead in both the polls and fundraising. This is unusual. Candidates in a typical contested New Jersey primary do not start out with significant statewide name recognition. Each candidate tries to increase support in his or her base and garner the endorsement of power brokers from other areas of the state without a horse in the race.
This contest has completely destroyed those rules of engagement. Booker has almost universal statewide name recognition, due solely to the fact that he has national name recognition. None of the other candidates can compete with that.
It is perhaps a sad irony, then, that this happens to be one of the strongest fields of Democrats to run for statewide office in a long time. In addition to the two-term mayor of the state’s largest city, we have 24-year and 14-year congressional veterans and a nine-year state legislator who currently heads the lower chamber.
The last time New Jersey saw a Democratic field this wide and deep – i.e. with at least three-seasoned officeholders – was the 1989 governor’s race, which featured Congressman Jim Florio (who was also the 1981 gubernatorial nominee), Princeton Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund (scion of a Louisiana political powerhouse), and former Assembly Speaker Alan Karcher (author of the much-read but unfortunately oft-ignored New Jersey’s Multiple Municipal Madness.
In fact, the 1970s and 1980s frequently brought out a slew of established New Jersey office-holders in closely fought contests for statewide office. In any other year, Frank Pallone, Rush Holt and Sheila Oliver would be in a dogfight for this nomination.
It hardly seems fair that Cory Booker can waltz away with this thing based on name recognition. There has to be a way to give all these candidates a decent shot at the nomination.
I pondered this as I watched all four candidates huddled together at a union-sponsored press conference to highlight the foreclosure crisis. They were standing in front of the home of a Newark resident who has been dealing with a foreclosure nightmare. Each of the candidates took their turn at the microphone to condemn the situation and point out that more needs to be done. But there was very little in their rhetoric that differentiated how each candidate would tackle the matter as New Jersey’s next U.S. Senator.
Then it hit me. Rather than decide this nomination based on what each candidate promises to do, let’s see them in action in a head-to-head set of tasks. We can call it New Jersey Senate Survivor.
Task 1: Foreclosure Fever. Each candidate is assigned a distressed homeowner currently in foreclosure proceedings. Candidates must get the bank off the homeowner’s back and set up a revised mortgage repayment plan. Whoever gets the best terms for their homeowner wins.
Task 2: Obamacare-O-Rama. This one is simple. The winner is the candidate who gets the most uninsured New Jerseyans to sign up for the Health Insurance Exchange Pool.
Task 3: Raise the Roof. Recognizing the singular impact of Super Storm Sandy on New Jersey, candidates must cobble together enough federal, state and insurance funding to elevate 10 homes at least 4-feet above flood stage in newly designated FEMA V-zones.
We can even award extra points to candidates who pitch in on the physical labor of raising those homes. You may think this gives Booker an edge – with the leaping of tall buildings in a single bound and all that. I wouldn’t be so sure.
If you have ever seen Frank Pallone glad-handing constituents in 90-degree heat without breaking a sweat, you’d know he has the stamina of an ox. Rush Holt can be counted on to devise some practical application of quantum mechanics to raise the homes with the most efficient expenditure of energy. And, since Sheila Oliver was able to declare her candidacy without being torpedoed by Joe DiVincenzo, you shouldn’t underestimate her grit and resolve.
The winner of these tasks earns the Democratic nomination. For one, this ensures that the nominee is a proven problem-solver. Perhaps more importantly, a significant number of Garden State residents who the candidates say they want to help once in office will be able to get that help even before the election.
If this proposal isn’t a “win-win,” I don’t know what is!
Patrick Murray is the founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, established in 2005 at the West Long Branch university.
Two River Moment
While the Acme is still located on River Road in Fair Haven, just about everything else in this photo has changed since the mid-1950s when it was taken. Among the changes, the shopping center is now L-shaped and the Acme long ago took over the space occupied by the 5-and-10 cent store. But you’ve got to love the cars, including the classic woody station wagon parked in front of Barnetts.