To the editor:
Startling statistics about youth gambling have been brought to our attention. Can you believe that 48 percent of 7-12 graders have gambled in the past year in New York state. Of these teens, 28 percent also have a problem with chemical dependence. These statistics come from the New York State Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. Children need to be made aware that gambling is not a way to make money and that there are many risks and bad consequences when gambling becomes a problem.
Things to look for in your teens if gambling is becoming a problem for them:
Are they using gambling lingo, "point spread or chips"?
Do they bring up gambling in conversations?
Do they watch programs associated with gambling?
Are they having mood swings?
Difficulties in school with grades dropping and poor performance.
Needing more money for school or other outings?
Are there items missing from your home?
Before problems start make sure you have an open relationship with your children. Let them know they can talk with you about anything. Reassure them how much you love and care for them. The average teen is impulsive, aggressive and they like to take risks. They are very easily influenced by peer pressure. Look in the family; are there problems with gambling? If there are make sure you talk with your children about addictions. If you need professional help it is available. The national problem gambling hotline is (800) 522-4700 or the website for the National Center for responsible gambling is www.ncrg.org and the NYS 24 hour helpline is (877) 846-7369.
For more information contact Betsy Reksc, HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188 ext. 107.
Betsy Reksc, Johnstown