Since 1995 - Non Profit Healthcare Advice

Raising a Healthy Family

How can I keep my kids from drugs and risky sexual behavior?

That’s what every parent wants to know. Wise parents know that it’s important to protect their children from alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and risky sex. Some parents think there’s not much they can do, but that’s not true. What YOU say is very powerful in your child’s life.

First, some facts . . .


  • Tobacco is often the first drug used by kids who use alcohol and illegal drugs like marijuana.
  • Tobacco increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, asthma and allergies.
  • Alcohol and other drugs can delay your child’s mental, emotional and social growth.
  • Alcohol and other drugs increase your child’s risk for accidents, school problems, violence and risky sex.
  • Every hour 350 teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Why do kids engage in risky behavior?

  • Role models: Kids do what they see their parents and older brothers and sisters doing.
  • Peer pressure: Kids want to do what their friends are doing-or what they think their friends are doing.
  • Pleasure: They’ve heard that sex and getting high are fun and feel good.
  • Curiosity: They want to find out what it’s like to smoke, drink, use drugs or have sex.
  • Stress: They’ve seen adults use alcohol and drugs when they’re under stress.

What can I do?

Here are some tips to help you help your youngsters avoid risky behavior:

  • Spend time with your child. That’s easier said than done, but it’s so important! Take time to listen- really listen– to your child, have fun together, and share what you think is important in life. Eat together as often as you can.
  • Praise your child. Reward good behavior. Express your love and appreciation.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask where your kids are going, who they’ll be with and what they’ll be doing. Get to know your children’s friends.
  • Tell your kids you don’t want them to smoke, drink, use drugs or have unsafe sex. Ever! Anywhere! At any time! Say it often. Once or twice is not enough.
  • Practice what you preach. Children learn by example. If you smoke, drink a lot of alcohol or use drugs, your kids will probably do the same. Actions speak louder than words! Your doctor can help you stop smoking, cut down on your alcohol or quit using drugs, if you ask.
  • Set clear rules and enforce them. Make sure your child knows what will happen if the rules are broken. Follow through when you say you will do something or that they can’t do something. Don’t make the discipline too harsh!


This material was developed by the TRUE Family Program, Department of Family Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, and adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2011.

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For more information:

Go to the Addiction and Substance Abuse health topic.