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Steubenville case provides life lessons for teens

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WARREN, Ohio - As spring break, prom and graduation season approaches, the Steubenville case of the two football players found delinquent of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl can be a valuable teaching tool for parents.

Trent Mays, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16, are now serving time in juvenile jail after they were sentenced earlier this month.

The teens are facing the consequences of many bad decisions that were made on the night of August 11th and the days that followed.

However, their story is a cautionary example that parents can use in explaining the dangers of social media and mixing it with drinking and sex.

"Even if your children are younger, you're able to say, when someone does something, even though it appeared as though it was a split second decision, it was something that hurt someone else and also hurt them," explains Deirdre Petrich, PsyCare director.

She advises parents to get trained on computers, tablets, cell phones and social media, set rules with their kids on the use of those devices and monitor their use.

"Be aware of who their friends are, who they're contacting, pictures, those sort of things," she says. "Kids are less likely to do inappropriate things if they are being monitored."

On matters of sex, parents should educate themselves and their kids on the laws surrounding rape and sexual assault.

For example, many teens don't even realize that sending a sexual oriented picture over a text is a felony offense.

Parents also need to listen to their teens about their views on sex.

"They might find that their kids minimize it with terms like "hook ups" and things like that, but its still, no matter how we minimize or trivialize sex, it's still really emotionally important to kids," Petrich says.

When it comes to alcohol use, discuss terms like blood-alcohol level or OVI, operating a vehicle under the influence, and what happens to the brain when you consume too much alcohol.

"They don't realize that things like alcohol poisoning and drunk driving, and that death can be a result of this," Petrich explains.

She says a good way to discuss these sensitive subjects with your kids are in non-confrontational settings like on a walk, out driving, or shopping.

"It appears more casual so they're able to speak with you and it doesn't appear as though you're asking them a lot of questions, you're just concerned and you're having a friendly talk and they're more likely to let their guard down and be less defensive with you," Petrich says.

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