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Shen Community Coalition tackles teen issues

Gina Scotto di Carlo is a parent and volunteer member of the coalition. She said that many parents try their best to warn and educate their children about making safe choices when using technology, but even when they think they're doing an adequate job keeping up with the latest trends and issues, they're still unaware of all the factors that exist.

"If I can help my child avoid a dangerous situation, I should be willing to attend and listen to th experts and educate myself further in looking for the warning signs. I can then engage my children in intelligent conversation about these issues," said Scotto di Carlo.

Brown said bringing in the experts to facilitate these presentations is key to their effectiveness. While children might be unwilling to listen to what their parents have to say, they might give it a chance when professionals are doing the teaching. The high school hosted two similar presentations last year that went over well, said Brown, although they were initially associated with the alternative education program.

"We invited Jim Murphy [Saratoga County District Attorney] to talk about sexting and there were about 125 people at that presentation. We did another with the Prevention Council on drugs, pills and alcohol. While the audiences were smaller, they were well received and impetus to try to do something on a larger scale," said Brown.

The series will continue monthly, with "Teens and Health Relationships" focusing on how well kids are supervised at parties to dealing with friends and romantic partners, on Wednesday, April 21. "Adolescents and Risky Behaviors" will explore the world of alcohol, pills and other drugs that teenagers may be exposed to and their effects on the brain, on Tuesday, May 11.

Each presentation ends with a discussion period where parents and students are encouraged to listen and ask questions. Scotto di Carlo said the presentations could be powerfully effective if a teen or adult sees or hears first-hand, unfortunate circumstances that have occurred or results of poor choices.

"Too often teens feel that they are invincible, that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Unfortunately, there are some parents that have the attitude that 'it is just what teens do' and they don't get involved until something happens to their child," said Scotto di Carlo. "It is part of parenting to worry however, there are times when our words fall on deaf ears."

All presentations are in the high school's Little Theatre from 7 to 8 p.m. and presenters spend time in classrooms throughout that day.

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