A family therapist and a public relations expert have pooled their talents to publish a bimonthly newsletter geared toward helping teen-agers and their parents communicate about drugs, sex, alcohol and growing up.
Co-editors Kathy Miller and Carolyn Sullivan have put out the first issue of "AdoleSense," sponsored by the Alliance for a DrugFree Annapolis and the Live Free Council.
The non-profit groups financed the newsletter through $3,000 seedmoney from the Annapolis Community Partnership -- 50 members workingon a long-range plan to eliminate the causes of alcohol and drug abuse.
Miller, a marriage and family therapist with the Annapolis Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy and a school speaker on parenting, has found parents well informed when it comes to toddlers and elementary school-age children.
But "they feel like they're driving inthe dark when it comes to raising adolescents," said Miller, who's watched parents become more and more anxious about communicating effectively. "Parents are feeling that their kids are spiraling outside the family system, and they can't cope."
She said she expects "AdoleSense" to help parents and teens become better informed, enabling them to make better decisions.
"That's the most direct way of making a difference in the community," Miller said. "Parents don't know for sure what to do. They're overwhelmed by adolescents. Parents feel isolated and sometimes rely on the adolescents to make decisions."
Sullivan said the newsletter will cover topics more traditionally associated with the teen-age years, such as grades, curfews and room tidiness, as well as the more serious issues of drinking, drug use, schoolviolence and AIDS.
"We're going to report factually what is happening in the county," she said. "We're never going to run out of subjects."
In the first, four-page issue, the editors point out that each year more than one million teen-agers become pregnant, one in seven contracts a sexually transmitted disease, and one in 500 college students is infected with the HIV virus.
"Our kids are being pressured, as young as 10, to decide whether to drink, whether to do drugs and whether to have sex," Miller and Sullivan write in the editors' column. "When both parents work, they have less time to spend with their kids. Less time means less communication and, in many ways, communication is the key to keeping it all together."
Readers will find first-person articles, including one on the county's teen drinking scene, by county police Sgt. Joe Campbell, and one from a teen-ager's point of view, by an Annapolis High freshman.
Miller, a past chairwoman of the Alliance and co-founder of the Annapolis Teen Center, alsoincludes a question-and-answer advice column. The newsletter offers information about parenting, drugs and activities for teen-agers.
Campbell talks about police cracking down on teen-age drinking parties. Such parties are widespread in middle- and upper-class communities, especially in the summer when parents go away, he says.
"These kids are drinking awful large amounts," he writes. "It's, 'Let's drinkuntil we can't stand up any longer and then we'll have a good time.'"
Even when police present parents with evidence of illegal drinking or drug use, parents often refuse to believe their A and B students would do anything wrong, Campbell said.
The editors want articles from teen-agers and parents, as well as drawings, jokes, poems, funny stories, advice questions and examples of what works. The newsletter pays $25 for any submissions printed.
Miller and Sullivan planto distribute the newsletter at county libraries, in family doctors'waiting rooms and through their Melvin Avenue office in Annapolis.
The first few issues will be sponsored by the Alliance, a citizens group fighting alcohol and drug abuse, and the Live Free Council, which offers alcohol and drug abuse education.
But the editors hope the publication will become self-supporting through subscriptions within a year.
A six-issue subscription costs $12. The next issue is planned for April.