………According to Ivey, her organization and its partners have undergone a shift in messaging. The message used to be simple: Don’t do drugs. Now, Ivey said, the message is more focused on highlighting strategies that help students steer clear of drugs and alcohol.


Both Walsh and Ivey stated that one major take-away from the survey is the important role that parents play in keeping their children away from drugs and alcohol.


“Parents don’t realize their perception of drugs and alcohol abuse affects their children’s use,” Walsh said in a phone interview before Monday’s meeting.


Both Walsh and Ivey described a parent’s role in prevention as “significant.”


In a phone interview after Monday’s meeting, Ivey said that a student’s involvement in sports, school clubs and church organizations are also “protective factors” in keeping students away from drugs and alcohol. Having goals for the future and a good group of friends help too.


Ivey and Walsh said they aim for greater community involvement to help students avoid drugs and alcohol. In her summary of the survey, Ivey stated, “As a community we must continue to de-normalize substance use in order to give youth the ability to take a stand against alcohol and other drugs without feeling ‘uncool’ or ‘alone’ in their choice.”


Even if schools had more prevention education in classes, that is only part of a child’s day, Ivey said; therefore, she argued that the role of community and family are key.


“We want this information to get out because it is such a prevalent issue in society today,” Walsh said, adding that the data from the survey influences grant writing, curriculum development and public education efforts.


The survey also asked about students’ exercise habits, bullying, and suicidal intention. Years ago, the survey only reported on drug and alcohol use, but due to “survey fatigue” among students it was combined with another health survey. Walsh said that combining the surveys was a good idea because “we see the child as a whole child.”    Ivey and her partners will continue to spread their message of rising above the influence of drugs and alcohol because, she said, “We have really awesome kids in our community.”



Source:   excerpts from www.fosters.com  25th February 2016 (USA)