Friday, September 18, 2009

GeorgetownCARES-A community supporting youth

This is the official blog for GeorgetownCARES, a substance abuse prevention coalition of concerned citizens and community sectors in Georgetown, MA working together to support youth and reduce youth substance abuse.

Together, we can be the voice of support, awareness, prevention for our children. A parent's voice, a school administrator's voice, a police officer's voice...all can make a huge difference for young people in Georgetown.

I'm hoping that we can build a shared vision of how our community can better support our youth struggling with substnace questions and issues. Beginning by raising awareness, we can combat substance abuse in a proactive/preventative way. We can encourage teen decisions to stay away from alcohol and drugs. We can help young people to have fun and enjoy their lives substance-free.

I am the devoted parent of three boys, all attending the Georgetown Public Schools. I want them, as well as every other child in Georgetown, to have what they deserve--the benefit of living in a community that supports youth with a high quality substance abuse prevention approach. Because no child in this culture is immune to the risks and temptations posed by substance abuse.
I am excited by the opportunity GeorgetownCARES, as a coalition of community members, can afford Georgetown's young people.

I will update this blog regularly with new information, links, fact sheets, book excerpts and articles both by myself and others regarding youth substance abuse prevention. I invite any parent with questions or comments to read and participate in this blog. I want this blog to serve as a resource for anyone with concerns or questions who wants to help build youth assets and protective factors.

I will also use this blog to announce GeorgetownCARES events.

The dangerous substances in question include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, Rx drugs, and other drugs, including inhalants (listed in the order that Joseph Califano noted for approximate frequency of youth use). Another way to refer to them is STOD--Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs.

In case you are wondering, WHY NOW? It is BECAUSE NOW, when our children are still living under our roofs, is the time to PREVENT what lies ahead: studies show that approximately 40% of college students binge drink on a regular basis. This and other substance-abuse behaviors create many dangers to the safety of our children and those around them. They also raise the question: How much of the value of a college education is wasted due to subtance abuse?

Remember, "Before graduating high school every American child will be offered the opportunity to smoke, drink, get drunk and get high on inhalants, marijuana or other illegal or prescription drugs. Most girls and boys will get such offers many times, from classmates, friends, or older siblings, usually beginning in middle school." p. 38, High Society, by Joseph Califano.

Why do college students drink, drug and smoke so much? Because of attitudes and beliefs built in younger, pre-college years. Because of kids either left to figure it all out on their own, or of the bad information they get. Will our college-bound kids have the power or desire to say no to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in their new environment? Will they care more about convincing their peers how cool they are, or about taking good care of themselves? What will our kids be adding to their carts from the internet? What's in their future?

We, as parents, as a community, have a say here. We can change things. Starting now.

Many college students have been well-prepared, academically, socially and emotionally for the challenges they will face. In fact, the (slim) majority of them will be making positive choices. Their well-informed beliefs and attitudes will add up to smart decisions.

Why do college students make the good, healthy choices they do--choosing not to binge drink, not to abuse drugs, not to smoke cigarettes? Is it because those 50-60% of college students have experienced caring, involved, informed parents PLUS a community that stands behind them with quality substance abuse prevention? Because they have learned why they should always say no to tobacco? Because they have learned to turn to their doctors with problems requiring medication instead of self-medicating? Because their teachers understand that we can teach underage children about safe choices for themselves after are 21: to either drink responsibly or to abstain?

So let's get started....what can we as parents, school administrators, police, our faith community, and local businesses do now to help our youth in Georgetown?

No comments:

Post a Comment