Youth Connect's Town Hall Meeting that took place over the weekend shared a powerful and important message to nearly 100 parents in attendance from the community. The message was primarily aimed for parents with children in grades 4 - 9; the earlier parents become aware of the effects of alcohol and substance abuse, the better prepared they will be in addressing and safeguarding against an issue that deeply affects the lives of youth our community.
The meeting included presentations from Dr. Duncan Clark, a leading expert in teen substance abuse disorder, as well as community members Jack Bennett and Debbie Kehoe from The Alliance Against Drugs. The Alliance's Listen II documentary was also screened.
A powerful presentation from Quaker Valley's High School Peer Advocacy Team, QV Voice, shared tips to parents from a personal, teen perspective:
- Boundaries and expectations are okay. They show your kids that you care.
- Be on top of it. Know where your kids are and what they are doing.
- If your kids know that you are paying attention, they are less likely to get involved in risky situations.
- The pressure to experiment is so strong that kids will be tempted to follow their peers if they think that no one cares (the path of least resistance will win).
- Talk to your kids about a plan for unsafe situations (safe word to text or say when they call from their cell phone).
- Stay up to talk with your kids when they get home.
- Create a relationship of open communication. Kids need to feel like they can talk to you without being lectured.
- Reward your kids for making good choices. Acknowledge it and praise them for it. Let them know that you trust them.
Youth Connect committee members hope that this meeting marks only the beginning of conversations and efforts that parents will take with their children, and throughout the community, to address, be prepared for, and put an end to teen substance abuse.