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Four teens sitting together

Being the parents or guardians of teens can be a very rewarding but extremely stressful time. Teens face many challenges in today's world and it can be difficult to know how much freedom is too much. There is no book to tell you which decisions are right or wrong so keep the lines of communication open and use resources available to you if you need help.

Drugs and Alcohol

Teens have to deal with peer pressure, personal problems, school demands and many other stress factors. Not knowing how to cope with these pressures can lead someone to turn to drugs or alcohol. Kids are at a greater risk of becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol due to the fact they are more vulnerable to addiction and they are exposure to new things on a regular basis.  

Things to look if you think your teen is using drugs or alcohol: 

  • A change in behaviour, mood, friends and appetite
  • A lack of interest in old friends or family activities
  • If they become secretive about where they are going and who they are going with
  • Physical changes including loss of weight, red or watery eyes, pale or puffy face
  • They ask for more money or you notice money missing from your home
  • Irregular sleeping schedule

If you suspect your teen is dealing with drugs or alcohol issues, please reach for help. Numerous community agencies are available for assistance - Crisis Resources [link to Crisis Resource page]


A gang is three or more people, formally or informally organized, engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior, creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear within any community, and who may have a common name or identifying sign or symbol. 

Guardians who are concerned a child might be considering hanging out with or joining a gang should watch for these behaviours:

  • Heightened interest in gang-influenced music, video games, movies and websites
  • Drawings or symbols on books or clothes
  • New tattoos
  • Unexplained injuries (fighting-related bruises, injuries to hands, knuckles)
  • Unexplained cash or property
  • Missing cash or jewelry
  • Clothing - colours, headbands
  • Weapons
  • Negative changes in behaviour - withdrawing from family, friends, declining attendance, performance at school, consistently breaking rules, drug use

Help guide children away from gang involvement by trying these tips:

  • Spend time with your child
  • Be a positive role model
  • Encourage good study habits
  • Encourage participation in school-sponsored and extra-curricular activities
  • Set rules and curfews and stick to them
  • Talk to your child about the dangers of gangs
  • Encourage your child to report illegal activity to police or school authorities

Contact Us

York Regional Police School Liaison Officers are a great resource for guardians with concerns. Contact the Community Services Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6709 for more information.