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Engaging in risky behavior certainly isn’t something today’s teenagers invented. Their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents took a few risks of their own, but the unforgiving nature of the dangers embraced has increased tenfold.

Despite having more information on how harmful such behaviors can be, teens continue to indulge in them and are actually engaged in far more damaging activities than most of their parents ever even considered.

Today’s youths are devoting less energy to abusing alcohol and tobacco — which is good news — but are instead focusing more on illegal drugs and sexual activity.

A recent survey of 8,200 middle- and high-school students conducted by Emerson Hospital in Concord should set off alarm bells in parents’ heads, letting us know that even the brightest teens are capable of making incredibly stupid decisions. Parents and guardians must remain vigilant.

We must constantly remind our kids as to why they should not drink, use illegal drugs or engage in other risky behaviors.

Parents can use modern technology to spot signs of danger. We can log onto MySpace.com and FaceBook.com to monitor kids’ Web messages and photos, check version histories on our computers and buy software to monitor e-mails and instant messaging.

Our children probably won’t thank us today for our worries and interference, but a few years down the road — and certainly when they have children of their own — they’ll appreciate the efforts made to spare them a lifetime of regret.