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5 Back-to-School Issues to Discuss With Your Kids

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 13, 2013 9:21 AM

Before your kids head back to school, you may want to have an honest chat with them about peer pressure and all the legal risks that come with it.

They may look apathetic and roll their eyes at you -- but rest assured, it's important. If you take the easy way out and keep mum, consider yourself warned: In many states, parents can be held civilly liable for their kids' actions.

Here are five back-to-school legal issues you need to talk to your kids about:

  1. Cyberbullying. It's often at the beginning of the school year when kids try to climb up the social ladder. Kids can be incredibly cruel to one another for the sake of popularity. In times of social flux, it's important for parents to talk their kids about cyberbullying.
  2. Sexting. Gone are the days of talking about the birds and the bees. Now it's all about keeping those birds and bees far, far away from the World Wide Web. Rather than "shaming" your kid, treat him or her like an adult and have an honest talk about how sexting can come back to haunt a person for years to come.
  3. Dangerous dares and pranks. From "butt chugging" to vampire biting, you'd be amazed by how many dumb things can attract your kid. Before your kids head back to school, remind them to keep their hands -- as well as teeth and other body parts -- to themselves.
  4. Drinking and drugs. This is the timeless golden rule. Now that some private schools are randomly testing students for alcohol consumption, it's all the more important to have a firm conversation about the dangers of underage drinking, as well as drugs. It may feel like a stale topic, but you won't feel that way when you get arrested for it.
  5. Driving habits. Teen drivers crash at a rate four times higher than any other age group -- in part, due to risky driving habits. Give your precious cargo a refresher on the dangers of distracted driving, not wearing seatbelts, and any other safety issue that keeps you awake at night.

A chat is a good way to start. But also remember to practice what you preach.

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