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The early arrival of summer in West Linn is welcome in most respects, but it also ushers in a heightened period of danger for our community’s young people.

Each summer, this newspaper is forced to report on tragedies involving teenagers and young adults who give too little thought to the consequences of innocent but careless actions. Warm weather multiplies the hazards for young people, who are drawn to rivers, lakes and the open road.

With time on their hands, teenagers in particular are more likely to take risks that can have lifelong consequences. Sadly, a single mistake — such as jumping into the waters of the Willamette River — can end a life or alter it forever.

Parents cannot change the impulsiveness of youth, but they should nonetheless impress upon their children what irreversible harm can come from a single moment of recklessness. They also can help their children find safer activities. This community, for example, has a rich recreation program and a teen center where young people can have a good time without risking their lives.

Alcohol and drugs accelerate the dangers facing young people in the summer. Intoxicating substances pose their own hazards, of course, including overdose and addiction. But these substances also alter a person’s judgment, which in turn leads to poor decisions and potential tragedy.

The staff of the West Linn Tidings would like nothing more than to make this the one summer when we do not have to report on the accidental death or serious injury of a young person. As summer weather takes hold, however, the exuberance and spontaneity of youth will increase.

That makes this an especially important time for parents to remind their children of the dangers of the roadways and rivers — and of the inherent hazards that arise from youthful distractions.

Contract Publishing

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