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Specific Considerations for Parents of Sons

For young men, leaving a party or bar alone after an evening of drinking or other substance use may put them at particular risk of encountering violence or harm. Tragic endings can result from simple disputes that escalate into violence, or impaired judgment that leads to decisions to wander off. It is important to share this information with teenage boys and young men. Talk openly about personal safety considerations and ways they can reduce their risk of harm while still having a good time when they are out with friends. Travelling in groups of friends both to and from places (such as bars and parties), taking turns being the designated driver, watching out for each other (this also means sometimes having to be the sober voice of reason), informing friends of any change of plans, and checking in with someone the next day are all examples of habits and methods that can help increase personal safety.

True Stories

  • In 2002, a 19-year-old male had been drinking with friends at a house, and after getting into a dispute with an individual, he left the house on his own. He was last seen walking down a rural road. He has not been located.

  • In 2007, a 19-year-old male went missing after a night out at a bar. His body was found over a year later within the same bar. He was not reported missing for a number of days after the night out at the bar because it was not unusual for his friends and family not to hear from him.

  • In 2010, a 21-year-old male went missing after a night out celebrating. He left the bar alone and his body was later located in a river nearby.

Discuss these case examples with your son(s). Remind them that their safety is your number one concern. Having open conversations will help them anticipate possible dangerous situations they could encounter. Encourage them to generate ideas of safe ways to respond to various scenarios. This will increase the likelihood that your son will know what to do if he should encounter a similar situation. Find natural opportunities to reinforce the core safety strategies and to discuss your son’s increased independence. Remember, risk can never be eliminated — however, it can be reduced. It is never a child’s, youth’s or young adult’s fault if they are victimized, regardless of the circumstances.

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