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LSSD, LPD partner to combat teen drug use
Sep 11, 2012 10:10 am
t's an old story, but if you read the front page of the paper lately, you know that our teens are engaging in many risky behaviors.
"Surveys among students indicate pre-teens and teens are experimenting with gateway, synthetic and prescription drugs," said Beth Petty, coordinator of the Lebanon Special School District's Family Resource Center .
To combat the issue, the LSSD is partnering with the Lebanon Police Department to address these risky behaviors. Saturday, Sept. 15, the FRC will host a workshop for parents that covers what drugs teens are experimenting with, what the warning signs are and discipline techniques that are effective when dealing with teen risky behaviors.
“This is our second year to address this topic. We know that parents are struggling with discipline for their pre-teen and teen students. We know students are struggling with their own identities and self-esteem and sometimes succumb to peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors," Petty said. "We want that to stop.”
To make the workshop as effective as possible, the FRC is teaming with the people who see the consequences of these behaviors first hand - Lebanon police officers.
“We are very fortunate to have the Lebanon Police Department help out. They know current trends – what kids are trying. They want these risky behaviors to cease too,” Petty added. “Chief Scott Bowen is dedicated to helping us keep our students and their parents safe. He has assigned Officer P.J. Hardy to assist us with a variety of projects. Officer Hardy will co-facilitate the workshop to inform parents about the newest trends in drug abuse."
While parents may be out of the loop, Petty noted that young people are very savvy about what is out there.
"What they don’t know is how experimenting with new drugs is dangerous. Kids are mixing prescription drugs, trying synthetic drugs, and experimenting with bath salts. They don’t stop to think that doing this just one time could result in death," she explained. "We are extremely lucky that the LPD is partnering with us to help keep our community safe and healthy.”
The workshop will offer parents advice on how to sheperd their children through this most difficult time in their lives.
"Officer Hardy will tell parents about warning signs they can look for and tips for keeping their teens engaged in other activities that may prevent them from ever trying drugs. At a recent survey conducted at the Wilson County Civic League, 100 percent of parents said that keeping their children safe and off the street was their number one goal," Petty said, adding. "Getting students involved in extra curricular activities is a great way to keep them from engaging in risky behaviors."
Nancy Guethlein, a retired school counselor, will facilitate the second part of the workshop, “Active Parenting of Teens." This curriculum includes information on many risky behaviors and how parents can work with their teens respectfully and get positive results as they discipline. Parents will receive a free parenting manual which includes chapters such as: "The Active Parent," "Winning Communication," "Responsibility and Discipline," "Building Courage," "Redirecting Misbehavior," and two chapters on drugs, sexuality and violence.
The workshop will be held in the Castle Heights Elementary Library on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Free childcare is provided for the workshop. Workers are LSSD employees of the after school program. Refreshments and a pizza lunch will be provided. The workshop and materials are free to anyone who is interested in attending. LSSD teachers may attend for inservice credit, and local childcare workers may attend for state credit hours.
Other efforts to fight teen drug abuse
Offering the workshop is just one prong in the battle to keep local teens away from drugs. Both Petty and Hardy are members of the Wilson County Community Partnership, an anti-drug and underage drinking group. In April, the partnership hosted their third Drug Take-Back Campaign. The campaign is a community-wide effort with local pharmacists, school personnel, mental health care workers and public housing officials joining in to make the take back a success.
“At each take back, we have increased the number of prescription drugs that we have taken in, including many narcotic drugs. Getting them out of our homes keeps them out of the hands of our teens," Petty said. "Proper disposal also ensures that we do not see traces of drugs in our drinking water.”
In February, LSSD hosted Rachel’s Challenge. Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine school-shooting incident.
“This year, we will host part two of this program, entitled 'Rachel’s Legacy.' We kicked off the year with a rally at the Wilson County Fair. More than 120 people attended the rally. A highlight of the day was when Winfree Bryant and Walter J. Baird principals revealed that as a result of Rachel’s Challenge, middle school students had performed almost 1,600 acts of kindness in just a few months," she said. "These acts of kindness were documented in paper chains that were on display at the rally. Rachel Scott and the foundation her family created encourages students, teachers, parents and the community to perform targeted acts of kindness.”
Petty noted that the LPD immediately got on board to serve as the first community sponsor for the Rachel's Challenge event.
“Without their financial assistance, we would not be able to host the second part of the program. In May, we surveyed our middle school students and as a result of hosting the program, approximately half of them said they felt more safe coming to school each day. About half of them also noticed a positive change in the overall school climate. Almost 100 percent wanted another Rachel’s Challenge event this year," she said. "When students are this excited about something, we want to make sure we keep this positive momentum going.”
Part of keeping that momentum going includes the Friends of Rachel Club (FOR Club). This group is open to any interested student and they meet weekly. Hardy will be a monthly speaker at the FOR Club meetings. Topics he will present to students include: Above the Influence (Drug Prevention), Staying Engaged, Gangs, Home Safety, Bullying, Internet Safety, Child Abuse Prevention and Conflict Management.
“All of these topics align with the workshops we present to our parents. When the community works together for a common goal, we will see positive results in combating negative influences that can harm our youth," Petty added.
For a list of all LSSD workshops for the 2012-2013 school year, visit lssd.org. For questions or to RSVP to this or any other workshop, contact Petty at 615-453-2693 or firstname.lastname@example.org