Some of the challenges that could be facing you and your 12th-grader include:
• Marijuana. About 20 percent of teens age 12 to 17 have had some experience smoking pot. The good news is that it's not necessarily a steppingstone to more serious drugs and isn't physically addictive. The bad news is that it's illegal, that teenagers can become psychologically dependent with repeated use, that it can cause heart and lung problems later in life, and that it can cause a slowed reaction time, impaired memory and impaired learning.
• Date rape. As having sex has become the status quo for teens of this age, your daughter may find herself in dangerous situations, even with someone she knows. This doesn't mean that you should worry about her every time she goes on a date. It does, however, mean that you should talk to her in detail about what to do if she feels pressured (physically or otherwise) to have sex when she doesn't want to.
• Depression and anxiety. It's perfectly normal for your teenager to feel gloomy every once in a while or to get overly excited or nervous about something like an upcoming test or performance. But when these feelings overtake his normal functioning, you know you have a problem. Symptoms for depression include fatigue, social withdrawal and lack of appetite. Symptoms for anxiety are headaches, chest or stomach pains, fatigue and dizziness. If any of these symptoms persist, take him to your pediatrician: She should be able to suggest how to proceed.
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