Common Sense Solutions to Keeping Teens Off the Streets

Every town is better off when our youth don’t get caught up in the wrong scene. Rich or poor, every neighborhood runs the risk of gang, drug and crime activities among teens because adolescence is such a vulnerable time in every person’s life. That awkward period between childhood and adulthood is very confusing as individuals try to figure out who they are and where they fit in. That’s why it’s so important that, as the adults in the village, we do everything we can to give our teens the best chance for making smarter decisions about how to spend their time and use their talents. This post gives a few common sense ways to pitch in as a parent, guardian or loved one.

1. Limit Screen Time

With social media bullying on the rise and online socializing playing into FOMO (fear of missing out), studies are showing just how harmful social media can be to mental health.

Teens have enough trouble navigating the pressures of school and social life without amplifying it throughout online activities. And it’s not just social media; obsessive video gaming keeps kids indoors and away from real life interactions. Teens are sitting behind screens rather than having real, meaningful conversations and interactions – it’s not healthy in excess.

For this reason, it’s important to be mindful just how much time teens are spending texting on phones, on the Internet and on video games. Limit access, limit time and encourage them to pick up other hobbies early in life, such as:

  • Biking
  • Skateboarding
  • Scooter riding
  • Fishing
  • Walking
  • Arts & crafts

2. Treat Mental Health Issues

Teens today are highly prone to mental health issues and illnesses, not only because the high level of raging hormones, but also a result of society sinking back behind screens and reducing real life interactions. Kids today just don’t interact with people enough, leaving them unskilled at navigating interpersonal relationships and their own emotions.

When you add to that the social pressures to fit in and a desire to have an identity, you create the perfect environment for stress, anxiety and depression. Which, when left untreated, can result in seriously risky behavior and choices for the teen.

If you sense that a teen you love could be experiencing or at risk for mental illness, don’t stay silent. Encourage the parent to get the teen professional assistance through trained and licensed counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. And if the family isn’t too keen on traditional pharmaceuticals, consider talking to a doctor about natural alternatives.

3. Help Teens Find Other Outlets

Adolescents need other outlets for their energy and emotions that stave off excessive boredom and let them blow off some steam in a healthier way. Having a fun hobby or activity that excites them is going to help prevent troublesome behavior down the road. And if that activity involves other people, it’s even better because they won’t wind up running with the wrong crowd.

Encourage your kids to pick up hobbies and interests early, which could turn into an organized activity in the teen years.

  • Puzzles, sudoku and mystery books could turn into joining a math, chess or debate club
  • Park district classes could turn into trying out for sports clubs and school athletics
  • Arts and crafts could turn into building sets for the drama club or department
  • Reading and writing could result in volunteering for the school newspaper or year book organization
  • Mind-challenging hobbies, such as building models or elaborate lego structures, help kids learn to problem solve.
  • For older teens with a work permit, help them discover hands-on, practical career paths that will keep them busy but interested, such as appliance repair, which definitely takes a technically minded person to figure it out. Even if they don’t choose this for an adult job, this type of skill can help them when they become a homeowner anyway.

There are plenty of ways to gently guide teens in your family or community away from sketchy street activity whether you start early or later; it just takes a little observation, a willingness to help and a lot of compassion.

Residential Permits Required By Most Towns

One of the best contributions you can make to your local neighborhood is fixing up your own home. When your residence is updated and in great condition, the value of the house goes up and the value of the community along with.

And, when you own your own home and are considering making improvements to it, it’s easy to assume you have carte blanche to do whatever you like to your own property. After all, you own it, right?

Nope. Slow down neighbor, your local town or county may require pre-approval on certain property changes before you dive in.

Now, while this list is not exhaustive (ahem…check with your city, county and state first), it may help you recognize the wide array of property work that requires your local government’s consent before you dive in:

Neighborhood Events

While this category isn’t directly home improvement, it is related to neighborhood permits. Before you consider a garage sale or block party, find out if a permit or license is required to do so. Psst…don’t forget about noise ordinances too!

Public Walkways

If you’ve got plans to impact any public area near your house, such as a sidewalk or street, you best check with your city first. They won’t take to kindly to public alterations made without their approval.

Street Dumpsters

Typically a local dumpster rental that’s placed on your driveway can be done without a permit (again, check with your town to be sure), but a dumpster placed on a street is a different story all together. If you are remodeling your home and need to rent a trash bin that will be stationed on a public road, call your town first to find out the rules and requirements for doing so.

Historic Homes

If you are lucky enough to live in an Historic district within your town, you probably have a fabulously charming home. However, you also probably have major restrictions and requirements for what changes can be made to said home. Before considering any renovations, you’ll likely need to get every tiny little detail approved. Many historic districts have strict requirements for precisely which changes can be made and, often times, the renovations need to match the original construction.

Exterior Construction

Building an addition? Adding a garage? Creating a porch or deck? Installing a fence or swimming pool? All of these exterior improvements typically require a local permit and possible zoning clearances as well.

Structural Work

Any projects that are structural in nature, such as concrete foundation, electrical or HVAC roughing, plumbing roughing or framework, will often require the appropriate permits before work begins.

Major Interior Renovations

Any time you’re taking on a big home project, like demolishing walls or rooms, remodeling your bathroom or kitchen, changing window openings or installing skylights, there’s a good chance your local village will require a permit.

Functional Upgrades

Some towns permit essential inner working improvements too, such as any upgrades of electrical systems, replacing a water heater or furnace and even installing a new air conditioning unit. It’s always a good idea to check with your town before taking this on.