There is no question that middle school years are tough. Even the most seemingly well balanced girl has self-doubt about herself. Add daily verbal harassment into the mix and she will have a decrease in self-confidence. The problem with this is girls who experience bullying in their early teens are at a greater risk for substance abuse and/or drugs in high school. Parents and teachers often are unaware of the level of verbal harassment that happens daily in school. When the situation persists, there is a resistance to expose the verbal abuse for fear of retribution which perpetuates the cycle.
Looking behind the scenes at why teens start to drink and use drugs in the first place, it can be than just an attempt of fitting in. For girls who have been verbally bullied or on the receiving end of cruel group text messages, snap chats or Instagram posts they are looking to find an escape. The longing to end the feeling of low self-worth is replaced by becoming numb to it. Regardless of the type of school your daughter attends (public or private) chances are there is some form of alcohol use occurring there. If your daughter is struggling already with confidence she can be a target to join the crowd and try drugs.
What can we do as moms to help our daughters not fall into these statistics? One of the hardest things we face is that no matter how much we want to, we can’t stop the negative verbal comments at school. Even if we block other students’ phone numbers from our daughter’s phone, the message will still be out there and eventually she will hear about the unkind comment. Finding a ways to help your daughter early in middle school is important so that she has a network to turn to when the going gets tough. When she feels like she has alternative choices the temptation to follow the crowd when alcohol and drugs are offered is reduced.
Three Things To Help Prevent Drug Use
Be Aware: Recognize the signs that your daughter is being bullied and if she is becoming isolated, distant and not engaged seek help through counseling. Knowing the preliminary markers that can lead to drug use before it happens is one of the best ways to prevent use.
Stay Connected: Sometimes teens will pull away and seem like they don’t want to spend time with their parents. It might be more accurate that the teen wants to do more grownup things like go to a spa together rather than do an activity you used to do when she was younger. Ask her if she could anything with you what would that be and then try it out!
Remain Vigilant: It isn’t enough to try prevention, in today’s world; statistics are not in kids favor. Almost half of all 10th graders use alcohol. That means if your daughter is in high school nearly half of her friends may drink. Talking with her about the health risks and monitoring friends continues to be an important role for parents.
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