The effort to reduce alcohol use among teenagers has shown real progress in Florida and around the country. Underage drinking is down, and marijuana and heroin use is holding steady, for now. However, for every victory, another concern seemingly arises to challenge the effort to stop drugs in schools. For example, more people in the U.S. now use prescription painkillers (38 percent) than tobacco products (31 percent). Not every person taking painkillers is necessarily misusing them, but the statistic shows how prevalent they have become, which in turn demonstrates how easily teens can obtain pills and put themselves at risk. In fact, 66% of abused prescription opioids come from friends and family. Additionally, Amendment 2 (medical marijuana) passed in Florida, which means there will be increased availability and likely decreased perception of risk, which leads to increased use.
Informed Families is committed to combatting drugs in schools. Middle and high school are such a vulnerable time for kids—their brains are still developing, their body chemistry is naturally off kilter and the pressure to do well academically can be overwhelming. Keeping teens safe during these important years is an integral part of our core mission. Here are some ways Informed Families is combatting drugs in schools:
A Trusted Partner for Educators and Schools
Since 1982, Informed Families has brought educators, parents and community leaders together to keep kids safe. This isn’t just a gathering of concerned parties, but rather, a mobilization of resources—active participants—toward this common goal. Part of our advocacy is working with schools on campaigns such as Red Ribbon Week, which brings the safe-kids, anti-drug message into classrooms and hallways, directly to students and teachers. This mobilization also includes our ambassador program, which invites and empowers teachers to make a difference. Informed Families ambassadors promote our campaigns at schools and work with parents and students to spread the word.
All Star Schools Program
Informed Families is proud to sponsor the All Star Schools program, which takes the goal of combatting drugs in school to another level. We sponsor four campaigns—Family Day. Red Ribbon Week, Lock Your Meds and Safe Homes, Smart Parties—throughout the academic year, and schools that participate in all four are eligible to become an All Star School. One school from each Florida county is eligible to earn the honor and is recognized for its efforts to keep kids safe and drug-free. The end result is a worthy goal, but the journey toward that goal is just as important—we offer schools, through their ambassadors, resources to make our sponsored campaigns a success, as well as guidance to help generate a positive attitude toward keeping drugs out of schools.
Resources for Parents
Parents are perhaps the biggest influencers on whether teens use drugs and alcohol, and kids who make smart choices at home are more likely to make smart choices at school. Informed Families offers resources for these parents, invites them to participate in the campaigns we sponsor and encourages them to form parent peer groups. Educators can’t tackle the problem of drugs in school alone; by enlisting parents’ help, a powerful collaboration forms that ultimately benefits our kids.
Year-Round News, Information, and Updates
The four campaigns that Informed Families sponsors comprise the core of our effort to address drugs in schools, but we help educators and parents all year. Our website offers a wealth of resources that can be accessed any time. This blog provides news and information as well as helpful posts. Keeping kids safe is a constant initiative, one that we are proud to be a part of, and we feel fortunate to work with so many schools that share this goal.
How is your school combatting drugs?