By Isiah REYES
Parents gathered at Roosevelt Middle School to learn more about the different ways to speak to their children about drug and substance abuse during the Red Ribbon Week parent night on Oct. 23.
Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed in October. It is a weeklong event that includes different activities for students including supplementary curriculum with a strong anti-drug message.
“The fight is not to just fight a war against people involved in drugs,” said Henry Lozano, one of the founders of the Red Ribbon campaign. “We now understand there are all kinds of undisclosed, internal reasons for a lot of drug use. The bottom line is if we don’t continue developing prevention methodology for young people and engaging our kids with this reality then we have given up.”
One of the main points of the lecture was the importance of communication between students and their parents because, Lozano said, having a good atmosphere at home is important for kids to feel comfortable in sharing how they are feeling and what’s going on in their life.
Another point discussed was that almost all kids who are found with drugs are usually not involved with anything at school other than just attending class. Parents were reminded to encourage their kids to find something they like to do such as joining sports, clubs, programs or activities.
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services Program Coordinator Annie Ortega was a guest speaker at the event. She said it is never too early to talk to kids about substances and alcohol.
“We try to talk to parents about keeping a safe, open space where kids can feel comfortable asking questions,” Ortega said. “What we find is that if we’re not there to answer those questions in a way that is not judging, not teasing, or is not in any way making them feel less than for asking a question, they are going to turn to another source.”
Police officer and narcotic expert with the City of Glendale Police Dept. Joe Allen gave a presentation on local statistics and substance use among youth and the consequences involved. He said there is a big risk of social media influencing kids because song lyrics and music videos have artists talking about current drug trends.
“There’s a national statistic that across the nation at the high school level, almost 10% of students on a daily basis drink alcohol,” said Allen. “And that’s a lot. That’s fearful for us to even think of at 5%. So be mindful of the alcohol at your house.”
The event ended with the parents in attendance getting free resources that were available by CV Alliance and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. Also in attendance were Rosemont Middle School principal Cynthia Livingston and newly appointed school board member Sandra Russell.