Pubdate: Fri, 13 May 2005
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Author: Daniel Pearce
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


TOWNSEND - Teens are reluctant to drink and drive but aren't afraid to take 
drugs and get behind the wheel of a car, says a local addictions counsellor.

"We need to broaden the image to kids of what impaired driving is," Kim 
Baker of Addictions Services of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, told a 
group of parents here Wednesday night. "It's not about impaired driving. 
It's about losing your life."

Young people "have got the message" about drunk driving yet they will smoke 
pot or take magic mushrooms and drive without fear of the consequences, 
Baker said.

"Kids drive all the time (after taking drugs) under the impression there's 
no distortion in their senses," she told the information meeting. "For 
marijuana, there's a misconception about how risky it is because it's 
considered natural."

She said kids are also twice as likely to get into a car with someone who 
has been drinking.

Baker was one of two speakers who addressed about 18 parents here on how to 
handle teenagers on the issues of drugs and sex.

Parents need to strike a balance between strictness and permissiveness with 
their teens, said Jayne Holmes, a public health nurse with the 
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

"As parents we have an overwhelming desire to take responsibility for a lot 
of things they should take responsibility for," Holmes told the Reformer 
after addressing the group.

Kids, she explained, need to make their own decisions so they can "learn to 
problem solve." If they don't experience a regular adolescence, they won't 
have "the information to make decisions," she said.

During her presentation, Holmes suggested that fathers continue to show 
physical affection, including hugging and kissing, towards sons even after 
they reach adolescence.

"When age 12 hits, (fathers) shake hands now. 'People will think I'm 
teaching you to be gay,'" she said.

Instead, the affection makes the boys "better individuals" and they too 
learn to be affectionate, Holmes said.

She also warned parents about the trend towards "oral sex clubs" among 
girls as young as 12.

Often seen in the city, the clubs are one way for girls to engage in sexual 
activity without fear of pregnancy, Holmes said.

The clubs are also a way for boys to talk girls into having sex by taking 
away the risk of pregnancy, she added.

"It's not about not getting pregnant. It's about not having sex because 
you're not ready."

Adolescent girls also tend to think they are infertile, Holmes said.

"They have their period, have sex, they're not pregnant, so they keep 
having sex. What they don't realize is that it can take up to 
one-and-a-half years for people with no problems to get pregnant."
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