How to talk to your teen about the consequences of COVID-19 | KOB 4

How to talk to your teen about the consequences of COVID-19

Brittany Costello
Created: August 03, 2020 10:20 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —While some New Mexicans still continue to push back against wearing a mask, one KOB 4 viewer said she’s witnessing a bigger problem: large gatherings of teenagers in the metro area.

KOB 4 obtained several pictures showing large groups of teens with no masks and no social distancing. The pictures were taken last Thursday night at the Sonic on Montgomery and Eubank.

The woman said she's been reporting them for months.

“When I call 242 cops and I tell the operator that ‘I’m seeing a large number of kids without masks on, they’re standing really close together,’ they don't seem concerned at all,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

The woman said that Sonic is not the only spot where people gather. She’s seen different groups all over town and have been reporting them since June.

KOB 4 reached out to APD to ask about enforcement at those specific locations.

A spokesperson sent the following statement:

“We generally are not getting calls to 911 about mask enforcement. Its possible calls may be made to 311. If officers are not responding to a call and see a large gathering where people are obviously violating the public health order, they have the discretion to approach the group and ask them to practice social distancing, wear masks, or risk a citation. It is likely a group like that would choose to disperse and leave.”

APD did not respond to our questions about whether the city has replied to these complaints or if any businesses have received warning or citations.

“I’m frustrated because I feel like they won’t be able to open schools until everyone starts to take this more seriously,” said the woman.

A local child psychiatrist said if parents haven't already, they should discuss the virus with their teens.

“As the adult, the responsibility is on us,” said Dr. Scott Carroll a local child psychiatrist. “They are teenagers, they're adolescents. Their brains are not fully developed. They don't understand the way we understand as adults, and so I think that really falls on the adults.”

Dr. Carroll said that adolescent age group spans from puberty to 25 years old. He said it’s a group that needs more peer interaction—it’s part of the biologic makeup.

“The other factor you have to think about is there something like adolescents have a natural sense of invulnerability where they don't understand, or the concept that they can die just is very foreign to them and very hard to grasp,” said Dr. Carroll.

Dr. Carroll suggested getting on their level and explaining the consequences.

“If you really sit them down, walk them through everything and really stress how important it is, and also get them to imagine what it would be like living without a family member,” said Dr. Carroll.

“It’s not realistic, but it is necessary,” Carroll added. “I mean it’s going to be hard for them, they’re going to struggle with it, and even the ones that are complying, it’s hard, they’re suffering.”

Dr. Carroll has a video dedicated to the teen brain.

State health officials say the rate of infection in the 10 to 19 and 20 to 29 age groups continues to grow.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office sent KOB 4 this statement:

“Certainly the state's hope and expectation is that local school districts and local governments will step up and play a role in keeping their students and school communities safe. And certainly it is disconcerting to see the kinds of photos you shared – as state health officials have communicated consistently in recent public briefings, the rate of infection in younger age ranges (specifically the 10-19 and 20-29 age ranges) has grown and continues to grow. No one is immune from the effects of this disease and no one, no matter their age, is impervious to infection. 

?COVID-19, it should go without saying, has been incredibly difficult for everyone to grapple with in their personal lives, and that includes parents and families, many of whom, at least for the next month, will have to balance at-home schooling with work and other essential endeavors. For younger kids, PED and ECECD (their communications folks are cc'd), are teaming up to connect families with child care options.

The same is true for families with older kids and teenagers as it is for folks of any age range across the state -- as we learn to live in a COVID-positive world, until there is a vaccine, we have to minimize risk in our activities. That means gatherings with friends, no matter how much we might want to see them, are a risk. If kids and teens must go out, they must wear face-coverings to protect themselves and their families, and they should keep their physical contact to an absolute minimum. It's a challenge but it's what we've got to do.”

The state provided the following list of resources for parents:

Distance learning toolkit from PED

 Creating meaningful family time from CYFD BHS Division

Unity in Community Zine explaining youth responsibility to help keep their whole family healthy


CDC Information for youth:

What your test results mean

Slow the Spread of COVID

Wear a Face Covering To Protect You and Your Friends

If You Have or Think You Have COVID-19

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