By Agnes CONSTANTE
Sex and drugs among teenagers have always been areas of concern for parents, and some wonder if social networks, like Facebook, have exacerbated these problems.
In an effort to address these issues, the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition held a seminar on Tuesday, “Sex, Drugs, and Social Networking,” at Verdugo Hills Hospital.
“Sex and drugs are not something that today’s society, especially amongst our youngsters, necessarily go and search for,” said Sgt. Tom Lorenz, public information officer of the Glendale Police Department. “It’s what our kids end up getting bombarded with because it comes to them.”
Lorenz said that because members of Generation Z, which consist of today’s teenagers, are the heaviest Internet users, they easily obtain a lot of information online. He also said that those with “smart phones” have more instant and convenient access to the web.
The role of social networking websites, particularly Facebook, have played out negatively on the Generation Z. In many cases because adolescents are able to falsify their identities and because information put in cyberspace remains there indefinitely.
“What we have to [tell] our kids is that what you do today and you put on the web today will catch up with you 15 or 20 years later because it will never ever go away,” said Lorenz.
However, Lorenz acknowledged that networking sites and online exchanges also have benefits. Two of those mentioned are that people are able to meet their lifelong partners online and that the FBI can track IP addresses in cases when necessary.
Another issue raised was the prominence media places on celebrities, prominent people who are usually role models of children, and many of who often engage in drug behavior. Lorenz cited how Hollywood personalities managed to garner millions of followers just shortly after setting up Twitter accounts and how one celebrity’s infamous bong video was followed by an increase in sales of salvia, the hallucinogenic drug she smoked.
While illicit drugs pose a threat to the well being of young adults, Lorenz said over-the-counter drugs have become an even bigger problem. By overdosing on common medicine, such as cough syrup, adolescents can experience a high they would get from illicit substances. Lorenz added the spread of this knowledge to many people is made possible through social network sites.
Although sex and drugs among teenagers are obstacles facing many parents, the coalition encourages parents to take advantage of support classes and other services it offers to help in dealing with these situations.
“At the foundation of every class that we talk about is communication and the relationship with your teen,” said Susan Dubin, secretary of the coalition. “Because no matter what kind of risky behavior your kid may experience, it’s about how you and the teen communicate.”
The presentation provided useful insight for many parents, including Seta Haig who has a child attending Rosemont Middle School.
“I think [the seminar] gave a lot of … information that a lot of parents don’t know about, about how social media works and its dangers and benefits to some degrees,” she said.
Following the presentation Haig said she intends to participate in the drug and alcohol prevention group.
More information on the coalition can be found at www.cvdapc.org.