December 17, 2014

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Amherst parents urged to stay vigilant to spot teens’ risky behavior

Lisa Baker of Bath Police Department shows some of the ways teens can hide marijuana. ANNA MERRIMAN/CHRONICLE

Lisa Baker of Bath Police Department shows some of the ways teens find to hide marijuana. ANNA MERRIMAN/CHRONICLE

AMHERST — In a presentation hosted at Marion L. Steele High School, police officers warned parents and teachers Monday about the risky behavior of teenagers — everything from smoking marijuana to the “cinnamon challenge” and twerking.

“We want you to snoop. We want you to be nosy,” Marcie Mason, youth worker for the Bath and Copley Police departments and juvenile offender diversion program said Monday.

Mason, Copley police Det. Paul Webb and member of the Bath Police Department Lisa Baker held a seminar as part of their series of talks, “Hidden in Plain Sight.” The group travels around Ohio, presenting to parents and school administrators about dangerous teen activity.

The primary focus of the session is specifically on teen marijuana and alcohol use. Mason and Webb explained the uses of various drug paraphernalia, “drug terms” and where teenagers have been known to hide marijuana and alcohol, including in cans of snack food, plastic bottles and — for marijuana — even the lining of dirty underwear.

The group brought along various props like bottles, drug paraphernalia and razors to show parents and teachers what to look for if they suspect a teenager of engaging in dangerous behavior.

“Check the trash,” Webb urged parents, reminding them that teenagers have been known to use typically innocuous items to smoke marijuana.

While most of Monday’s session was focused on teen drug use, the group broached other topics as well from music, various “daredevil” activities and technology.

“They’re putting themselves in dangerous situations by promoting that group,” Mason said of the musical group Insane Clown Posse, which she called “horrific” and “violent.” She encouraged parents to be aware of the music their children are listening to.

Along with violent music and drugs, the group warned parents to watch out for dangerous activities like creating “bottle bombs” — putting Mentos candy into a pop bottle to watch it explode — and the “cinnamon challenge” of eating a handful of cinnamon.

At the end of the 2½-hour session, the group had one lesson to impart on parents: Be watchful.

“Become familiar with your kids’ technology,” Mason said, adding that parents should monitor a teenager’s online activity and set up parental controls on their computers.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.