Some years ago, when a student survey in the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District reported a too-high percentage of students participating in risky behaviors, parents and educators took on the task of better safeguarding their youth.
Since that time, GDAY, Groton-Dunstable Alliance for Youth, has undertaken better education of not only students but parents, too.
The latest in a long list of educational successes took place last week when GDAY hosted a National Town Meeting at the high school’s Black Box Theater.
The panel included representatives from the educational, medical and law enforcement community as well a student representatives.
Over 100 parents attended.
Statistics generated by a 2006 survey at Groton-Dunstable showed that 43 percent of high-schoolers admitted to drinking alcohol. But a student-generated film viewed that night revealed that, according to teens questioned, those numbers may be far higher.
The primary source of alcohol for teens is private homes. Parents were reminded that children often follow the examples of their parents. If parents drink, the children may take that as a green light to do the same.
Students on the panel said teens think as long as they don’t drink and drive, it’s OK to drink. But as Dr. Lyons pointed out, alcohol can be a “disinhibitor,” causing young people to do things they might not do when sober.
With proms and graduations right around the corner, parents should revisit the use of alcohol with their children — and make their positions on the subject very, very clear.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services offers some sobering statistics:
* Motor-vehicle crashes are the number one killer of youth ages 15 to 20.
* In 2000, 2,339 youth died in alcohol-related crashes — accounting for more than one-third of all youth traffic fatalities.
* More than 60 percent of youth alcohol-related crash deaths occurred in rural areas.
What you can do:
* Tell your child that you do not want him or her getting into a car with someone who has had even one drink or who has been using illegal drugs.
* Tell your child you want her to call you if she can’t get a safe ride home. Emphasize that you want her to call even if she herself has been drinking or using drugs, her safety is your first concern.
* If you host parties for young people, do not allow them to drink alcohol or use drugs.
* Be a good role model. We all know that young people learn by example — don’t set an example you don’t want your child to follow.