Summer vacation is an important time for children to let their hair down – free of stressful classes and exams, thousands of schoolchildren and teenagers will be looking forward to weeks and months of summers camps and other trips with their friends.
But is also a time of increased risk. While the vast majority of schoolchildren and young students will have a relatively innocent vacation, the lack of everyday boundaries mean that each year a portion fall victim to addiction, gambling, sexual abuse and other such hazards.
With summer vacation upon us, MASK – Mothers and Fathers Aligned Saving Kids – is urging parents to be proactive in preventing their children from becoming at-risk.
MASK runs a helpline dedicated to helping at-risk youth struggling with probems ranging from drug, achohol and gambling addictions, to eating disorders, mental illness and sexual abuse.
The group's founder, Ruchama Bistritski-Klapman, says summer safety is key.
Her message to parents: Don't think it couldn't happen to you.
"Your kids may be in the bungalow colony or going to camp… summer safety is a tremendous issue that must be addressed before they go away for the summer," she told Arutz Sheva.
"Make sure you speak to your children about not speaking to strangers, safe touch, knowing they can go to an adult if there's any problems…"
Many of the issues faced by the kids MASK deals with began innocently enough, she warned. Often, the key to avoiding them is simply raising awareness.
"We have too many stories that start in the summer that are innocent beginnings and turn into a huge problem that they they suffer the rest of their lives."