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Big Kid Childproofing: Making Your Home Safer for Tweens and Teens

139445633_e2fabef491_zWhen we think about childproofing, we’re taken back to a time of outlet covers, corner guards, toilet locks, and stair gates designed to protect our precious kids from some of the most dangerous phases of their development.

But as any parent of an older child can tell you, danger, unfortunately, doesn’t end in toddlerhood. Oh no, there are a host of risks associated with tweens and teens who feel older and braver than their parents would like to admit.

As such, childproofing need not be reserved for the very young, but rather for all minors living in your home as a matter of personal safety.

Let’s take a look at 4 steps you can take in your home to help protect your growing child from harm.

1. Lock up medications — all medications.

While we’d all like to believe that medication abuse couldn’t happen in our home, statistics tell a different story. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Monitoring the Future 2013 survey, prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most abused illegal substances among 12th graders, second only to marijuana. The most abused non-illicit drugs include Adderall, Vicodin, and cold medicines. For information on how to store medications safely within your home, check out this informative video by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

2. Lock up alcohol.

If locking up booze seems unnecessary, consider this: 10.2 percent of 8th graders, 25.7 percent of 10th graders, and 39.2 percent of 12th graders consumed alcohol in the 30 days before the survey was conducted. While alcohol use among 8th to 12th graders has steadily declined over the last 20 years, statistics of use remain cause for serious concern among parents. According to another study conducted by the NIH on how parents of adolescents store and monitor alcohol at home, basic findings suggest locking up alcohol or removing access altogether serve as viable measure to limit abuse within the home. Other ways to help prevent alcohol abuse include: parental supervision of all parties, limiting the amount of time your child spends home alone, and ongoing dialog and education about the dangers of underage drinking.

3. Lock up firearms.

Even if your child has grown up in a household possessing respected firearms, accidents can and do happen. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 785 kids ages 14 and under lost their lives to unintentional firearm deaths between 1999 and 2010. Additionally, firearm access remains a risk factor for suicide according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported suicide as the third leading cause of death among young Americans ages 15 to 19, with firearms recorded as the prevalent method used.

4. Don’t forget about the keys.

Locking up medications, alcohol, and firearms offer little protection when the keys to these safeguards are within reach. Remember to always keep your keys in a safe and secure location.

5.  Exercise Internet safety.

The internet serves as a valuable resource for information, entertainment, and social communication, but did you know that 9 to 35 percent of America’s youth has fallen victim to electronic aggression? Because connections made through chat rooms, message boards, and social media platforms can and do exist outside the confines of your home, discuss appropriate online safety measures your child can take to protect themselves and the entire family. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers tools and resources for parents and kids on everything from internet safety, cyberbullying, and cybersecurity, to gaming safety and sexting prevention.

Image credit: Flickr/James Thompson

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