We talk about addiction and adults often, but sometimes, we miss the changes in our children’s behavior that warn us of a gambling problem they may be struggling with. Surveying has shown that more than 10 percent of New York State’s adolescents in grades 7-12 are struggling with a gambling addiction, and another 10 percent are at-risk.
Have you introduced your child to gambling?
Do you buy your son or daughter gambling tickets, raffle tickets or tickets at the racetrack? Whether it’s a special occasion, such as a birthday, or just another trip to the grocery store with a lottery ticket purchase at the end, your children’s introduction to gambling can lead to serious consequences.
Your child can be introduced to gambling with or without your involvement.
Gambling is glamorously portrayed on television and in movies, and it’s talked about among friends and family. Advertisements pop up through simple Internet searches related and un-related, and media talk pushes “record-breaking” jackpots to show up on billboards and over the radio, among other places.
Have you stopped to think about how gambling might be affecting your child?
You may not realize that your child knows as much as he or she does about gambling. It’s important that you have a conversation with your child about the subject, its popularity and its risks. Without this conversation, your child or teenager may only hear of the big potential wins of gambling promoted by various outlets, and not the devastating losses people are facing every day.
Is your child gambling? Know the signs of adolescent problem gambling.
- At School: Is your son or daughter accumulating unexplained absences from classes, and not able to say where they were? Have their grades recently dropped or have they shown less interest in studies?
- At Home: Has there been a change in your son or daughter’s personality or behavior? Are they obsessed with newspapers, magazines or websites that contain odds, scores and other statistics?
- With Friends: Is your son or daughter borrowing or stealing money? Is he or she partaking in any recurring activities such as card games? Is there a new intense interest in gambling conversations, and does he or she brag about personal gambling experiences?
- With Property: Is your child or teen making exaggerated displays of money and possessions, and can they sometimes not explain where these items of value have come from?
Your child may have a gambling addiction or be at-risk for developing one. Parents must be mindful of watching for these signs, just as you would be looking for signs of drug and alcohol abuse. If you suspect there is a problem, try speaking with your child to understand the extent of their gambling activity, why they gamble and how they are gambling, before they find themselves in financial, legal and emotional trouble.
If you think there is a gambling problem and feel unprepared to help your child stop it by yourself, do not worry. Help is available. At anytime, you can call the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY, and a professional will be available to assist you in finding the support and treatment your family needs.