By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools
Parents do not need to feel they are alone in helping their children stay drug-free. Educators, law enforcers, coaches, faith leaders, judges, recreation program directors and most youth-serving professionals want to help, too.
Research shows that taking an active interest in your child's school and community can be an effective anti-drug. How? Read on.
Children have the best prospects for leading healthy, drug-free lives when schools support parents in their anti-drug message. There should be nothing confusing or contradictory in what children learn about drugs from the adults in their lives, and school policies need to reflect the same attitude toward alcohol and drugs that you express at home:
Drug use is not acceptable.
Drugs diminish a child's ability to concentrate and follow through on academic responsibilities, they cause loss of motivation and absenteeism.
Students who use drugs can be disruptive and drain teachers' time and energy.
We are fortunate. Havre Public Schools reflects this attitude.
The best way to ensure that the anti-drug policies at your child's school are strong is to be involved. You can:
Be involved in your child's education life.
Meet his or her teachers.
Attend school functions, especially parent-teacher conferences, and consider joining your local Parent-Teacher Organization.
Know the route your child follows to and from school, and make sure it is supervised if your child is on foot.
Learn about the policies regarding alcohol and other drugs at your child's school. Havre Public Schools' policy specifies what constitutes an alcohol, tobacco, or other drug offense, spells out the consequences for failing to follow the rules, and describes procedures for handling violations.
Immerse yourself in the school's drug-education program at home. Ask your child to show you any materials distributed during or outside class and take the opportunity to review them together. Evaluate the materials to make sure they contain a clear message that alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use is wrong and harmful. Check that the information is accurate and up to date.
Research indicates that some of the most effective programs emphasize the value of life skills like coping with anxiety, being assertive, and feeling comfortable socially. When these lessons are combined with drug education and media literacy - being able to critically evaluate the media's messages- students confronted with drugs are better equipped to resist them.
Get involved in your community
Drug-free sons and daughters not only strengthen their families but their communities, too. As a result, many towns have found ways to help local young people stay healthy. Communities, like Havre, offer teens alternatives to familiar rituals, like alcohol- and drug-free proms, and special dry events like First Night festivities on New Year's Eve. Additionally, the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line provides student-run clubs where teens can hang out, watch videos and play games.
Build a network of adults you can talk with about school safety issues and alcohol and drug use. Substance abuse should be every parent's concern.
Join a community association and make sure that alcohol- and drug-prevention issues are a high priority on the local agenda. Make sure there's a safe school corridor to and from schools.
Encourage your children to participate in school-sponsored, after-class activities. This is important because kids get into the most drug trouble in the unsupervised times after school and on weekends. Again, the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is a great resource for parents and youth ages 6-18. The club provides core programs in the following areas: character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; the arts; and, sports, fitness and recreation.
For more information on this topic or the club, call the HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, 265-6206.