Did you know that alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death among people 15 to 24 years of age? As both a parent and a police officer I find this fact distressing. Fortunately, we all have an opportunity to positively influence the young people in our lives. This past month I have had the privilege of interacting with grade six students across Flagstaff County through the D.A.R.E. program. This program stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence. One of my favorite things about teaching D.A.R.E. is seeing the growth in the students over the time we have together – not to mention the interesting questions that come up!
Do you have a son or daughter in grade 6? How about a niece, nephew or close family friend? Keep the dialogue about alcohol and drugs open. Ask them about my visits to their classroom; get their thoughts on addiction. You might be surprised what comes up!
What can parents and supportive adults do? Here are some things you can do to help your kids say no to drugs and alcohol (adapted from D.A.R.E. America, 2012):
1. Be your kids’ greatest fan. Compliment them on all of their efforts, the strength of their character and their individuality.
2. Get your kids involved in adult-supervised after-school activities. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find out what your kids are best suited for, but it’s worth the effort – feeling competent makes kids much less likely to use drugs.
3. Help your kids develop tools they can use to get out of alcohol or drug related situations.
4. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
5. Call kids’ parents if their home is to be used for a party. Make sure that the party will be alcohol-free and supervised by adults.
6. Set curfews and enforce them. Let kids know the consequences of breaking children understand that they can ask you anything and that you will give them an honest answer.
7. Encourage open dialogue with your children about their experiences. Make sure your children understand that they can ask you anything and that you will give them an honest answer.
8. Set a no-use rule for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
9. Sit down for dinner with your children at least once a week. Use the time to talk-don’t eat in front of the TV.
10. Get-and stay-involved in your children’s lives.
If you see me out and about in the community please stop and say hi. My wife Melissa and I are very much enjoying living in Killam and have been so touched by the warm welcome we have received.