Small towns offer a kind of safety that big cities don't offer. In small towns, a higher percentage of people know and look out for each other, which means that if your kids are engaged in dangerous behavior, someone you know is likely to see it and let you know. However, small towns can breed boredom, which can be perilous for teens.
The smaller the town, the less likely teens will be able to find suitable entertainment. Without museums, bowling alleys or movie theaters, sponsored events might be few and far between, leaving teens to their own devices. An article at PsychologyToday.com lists boredom as one of the top reasons teens get themselves into trouble.
Drinking and Drug Use
Parents might feel the sophistication of the city exposes teens to adult problems such as drugs and alcohol a lot earlier in life, but according to a report by the ABC News show "20/20," hard drug use is a fact of small-town life, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five teens will binge-drink, stating that many have made drinking into an activity all on its own, not as an addition to other forms of fun. Small-town teens can seek out thrills that they otherwise wouldn't find in their small-town lives, according to the "20/20" report, often trying illegal and addictive drugs to combat boredom.
In another effort to combat boredom and broaden their world view, teens in small towns often turn to the Internet. While they can visit plenty of healthy social websites, many end up on pornographic and misogynist sites, according to a survey by Project Teens, Canada. Without outside amusements, and sometimes fueled with less sex education, teenagers in smaller towns experiment physically at an earlier age, and sometimes less safely, according to the report, published in 2009 in MacLeans magazine.
While the risk of a mugging in a suburban or rural area is lower, that doesn't mean roaming the countryside is safe. The Motherlode, a popular blog by "The New York Times," addresses ticks, which are no small fear. Lyme disease can be debilitating and last for years. Mosquitoes carry West Nile virus. Across the United States, bears, mountain lions, wild boars and other creatures might roam the very woods where your kids are having a party or camping.
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