By Melissa Ford
It’s not “hot-off-the-press” news that amongst teenagers, drinking and experimenting with marijuana and other drugs is higher in Oak Park than the national average. You’ve heard or read about intervention/prevention options such as drug-sniffing dogs, random drug testing and closed campus. But, what about prevention at an earlier age?
Whether you are a parent, student, teacher, community member or anyone else that has influence over pre-teens and teens, please come to the Middle School Alcohol and Substance Use Forum:
When: Monday, March 21, 2011, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Brooks Middle School Auditorium, 325 S Kenilworth, Oak Park
Sponsored by: District 97 & Middle School Action Committee
Is Middle School really the time to discuss drug and alcohol use? Kristine Raino-Ogden, a member of the Community Coalition on Teen Alcohol and Substances Abuse says, “Instead of trying to turn things around once a kid is involved with drugs and alcohol, we can begin talking to pre-teens and teens at the Middle School level if we want to make a difference. Middle School is about the time when kids start making decisions about whether or not, at some future date, they are going to try alcohol and/or drugs.”
Does it really make a difference if I attend? Education for parents, kids and our community is key for preventing future substance abuse. As parents, we need to understand that our attitudes and behaviors toward drugs and alcohol convey powerful messages to our children. What we do and say makes a tremendous difference in our children’s choices around drinking, smoking and drug-use. Raino-Ogden offers a startling statistic, “ A child, who has a father that thinks it’s okay for his child to drink, is 2.5 times more likely to binge drink than a child who has a father that tells him that drinking is not acceptable. And, a child that does not have a father in his life is only 1.5 times more likely to binge drink.”
What’s the Forum lineup? District #97 Superintendent Albert Roberts is framing this issue and discussing how parents are part of the solution. In addition, Oak Park Police Commander Keenan Williams will speak on teen substance use. A parent, who has a child that became involved with drugs in Middle School, and a teen with prior substance abuse issues, will speak about their personal experiences. And, discover the myths and realities around teen behavior and alcohol/drug abuse; plus, bring your concerns and questions for a moderated Q&A session.