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Summertime could bring added risk for teens to engage in dangerous behaviors

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Now that school is out and summer is beginning, many of us breathe a sigh of relief.

But summertime can also bring an added risk for teenagers to engage in dangerous behavior.

"There's summer get-togethers, and parties, and school's out and the structure is different," explained Amy Moore, a therapist at Pinnacle Behavioral Health. The organization specializes in helping at-risk teens. "Boundary-setting is sometimes different in the summertime, too," she said.

It's all that free time and decreased supervision that can mean kids get into more trouble, including increased risk for substance abuse. Moore said that's especially true of teens who already have problems with drugs or alcohol.

She suggests parents watch for signs like children asking for money more frequently, irritability, and defensiveness.  "It may increase to aggressive behavior, but it can also be the opposite side where they're really isolating from the family and wanting to stay gone at all times," she said. "These behaviors can really show that something is going on."

Moore said it's something to look for because substance abuse can lead to other problems, like drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, and drowning.

Moore recommended things parents can do besides just watching out for signs.

"Have an open and honest conversation," she said, asking parents to say things like, "'Tell me about last night.' That opens the door for more conversation. Being a listener, instead of you know, interrogating them."

But part of that honesty needs to come from you as a parent. Moore suggests being consistent, setting boundaries, and letting your children know your expectations, but also following through with what you tell them.

"Activities can also help," she said, "especially positive activities where they can get connected with some hopefully positive peers."

She says all of this can add structure, keeping students safer this summer.

For more tips and information about seeking help for troubled teens, click this link.