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Teaching Kids to Just Say 'Know'
Parents Get Advice: Warn Children About Danger of Drugs

B.g. Gregg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

March 30, 1996

Kendra Boroff didn't think drugs would be a problem when she moved from northwest Ohio to her upscale Landen neighborhood five years ago.

But soon her seventh-grade son, Brian, was invited to a classmate's birthday party, and alcohol was the main course.

"I dropped him off, and by the time I got home, there was a message on the answering machine saying, 'Mom, come get me,' " she said. "When I got there, two other kids were waiting for a ride home. They wanted out of there."

Three years later, Mrs. Boroff felt compelled to attend the Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE) conference in search of information she can take back to her community.

"There's a group of parents who are willing to admit there's a problem," she said. "We're all just waking up and want to do something."

The second day of the PRIDE conference was a day for parents to get advice on how to handle the drug problem. Leaders of the country's drug-prevention effort said real change won't come until parents get fired up about the problem.

Thomas J. Gleaton, president of PRIDE, said drug use by children dropped substantially in the early and mid-1980s, because parents in the late 1970s decided they were not going to put up with drugs.

PRIDE's first national conference was held in 1978, he said.

"We had a lot of mad mothers who said this is enough and we're not going to take it anymore and we'll do anything we can to fix it," he said.

Unfortunately, that outrage did not last, he said, and as parental concern diminished in the late 1980s, drug use by kids began to pick up.

Sue Rusche, executive director of National Families in Action, an Atlanta- based drug prevention group, said one of the reasons parental concern over drug use diminished was because the new generation of parents had been drug users themselves and thought of it as a harmless indiscretion.

"But if you ask them, even though they themselves used drugs, they do not want their kids to do drugs," she said. "But they don't know how to talk to them about it."

Carole Reeves, president of the National Family Partnership, a St. Louis- based drug prevention group, said parents should be honest about their drug use.
"They're not going to fool their kids very long," she said. "Just say, 'I don't want you to use because I love you.' "

The biggest problem parents of the 1990s have to overcome when dealing with their children and drugs is lack of time, said Paula C. Kemp, associate director of Families in Action. She said parents need to deliver the message in "bite-sized pieces."

Hope Taft, community liaison of Ohio Parents for Drug-Free Youth, seconded that notion, saying parents should look for opportunities while watching television or driving in the car to talk about drugs.

The 1995 national PRIDE survey of students showed a relationship between those students who didn't use drugs and the students whose parents frequently talked to them about drugs.

Mr. Gleaton said students with parents who frequently talked about drugs were 30 percent less likely to be involved with drugs than their peers.

Starting point

Experts at the PRIDE conference offer tips for parents in talking to their children about drugs:

Talk with other parents about the problem in the community; a united front will help, and you'll know your child's friends are getting the same message.

Don't be confrontational or judgmental.

Use the technology of the 1990's. Share information and ideas with other parents over the Internet.

Lobby politicians for drug prevention efforts so children can receive the same message on television, over the radio and in schools.

If you work, sign your child up for an after-school program, so he is not roaming the streets.

Who to call

For more information, parents can turn to the Ohio Prevention and Education Resource Center, (800) 788-7254; and the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, (800) 729-6686.


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