• Straight Talk Community Conversation About School-age Students' Drug and Alcohol Use
     
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    If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to voice your opinion, we encourage you to complete this questionnaire.
     
    Drug and alcohol use among our youth is a growing concern according to parents, students, school personnel and community members. Trends indicate that drugs and alcohol are more accessible to today’s young people and that youth are experimenting with substances at an earlier age. This coupled with an increase in the perception among youth that substance use is acceptable, leaves our community asking for interventions.
     
    On November 27, 2012, the public was invited to participate in a community conversation on this important issue. The following information, gathered that evening, describes the issue as it pertains to our community and offers potential solutions.

    Youth drug and alcohol use is of concern for the following reasons here in State College:

    Proximity to the university environment bolsters a culture of alcohol use. Exposure to influences such as the college students’ irresponsible drinking behaviors primes our school-age youth for engaging in similar behaviors. Many of our students have siblings and friends that attend the university, which affords them access to college-student parties. University events that are centered around drinking, such as football tailgating, lends to our youths’ perceptions that drinking is acceptable, and adults often fail to model responsible use to counter this.

    Our students pride themselves on high academic achievement and are under a great deal of pressure to perform exceptionally and compete with peers. This may make our youth lacking in effective coping skills more susceptible to turning to substances to manage high academic burdens. Others feel as though the lack of opportunities outside of sports leave our youth bored, lost with nothing to do. For example, there are few employment options for school-age youth in town. Students who engage in positive behavior do not feel they have a strong enough voice to counter the negative risk-taking behavior of some of their peers.

    The openness of our high school campus with students crossing through parking lots and having such close proximity to college-student housing and campus adds to the concern. There is not a large enough law enforcement presence in our secondary schools. The schools are too large, have different operating procedures, and fail to communicate with one another. Others challenge that the curriculum does not adequately address substance use, and does not start early enough.

    Parents are often unprepared to address this issue with their children. Parents and caregivers are very busy, which may lead to a lack of supervision and affords children too much unstructured time. Students have parties in their parent’s home, at times with consent, adding to the concern that parents are more tolerant of drug and alcohol use. Parents are also hesitant to talk to other parents or the school about suspected use.

    Some solutions identified  In order to address youth substance use in our community and schools, we all need to work together on the solutions. Some solutions identified in the community conversation include: If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to voice your opinion, we encourage you to complete this questionnaire.
    Bring drug dogs into the high schools
    Increased education parents
    Better drug and alcohol education embedded in the curriculum beginning in elementary school
    Start support groups school (Al-A-Teen, Nar-Anon)
    Stronger, more consistent enforcement of school policies
    Increased law enforcement presence in the community
    Education for school personnel to identify at risk students early and often
Last Modified on October 18, 2016