How To Talk With Kids About Drugs
Don’t put off talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs. As early as fourth grade children worry about pressures to try drugs. School programs alone aren’t enough. Parents must become involved, but most parents aren’t sure how to tell their children about drugs. Open communication is one of the most effective tools you can use in helping your child avoid drug use. Talking freely and really listening show children that they mean a great deal to you.
What do you say?
Tell them that you love them and you want them to be healthy and happy.
Say you do not find alcohol and other illegal drugs acceptable.
Many parents never state this simple principle. Explain how this use hurts people. Physical harm – for example, AIDS, slowed growth, impaired coordination, accidents. Emotional harm – sense of not belonging, isolation, paranoia. Educational harm – difficulties remembering and paying attention.
Discuss the legal issues. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to time in prison or cost someone a job, driver’s license, or college loan.
Talk about positive, drug-free alternatives, and how you can explore them together. Some ideas include sports, reading, movies, bike rides, hikes, camping, cooking, games, and concerts. Involve your kids’ friends.
How do you say it?
Calmly and openly – don’t exaggerate. The facts speak for themselves.
Face to face – exchange information and try to understand each other’s point of view. Be an active listener and let your child talk about fears and concerns. Don’t interrupt and don’t preach.
Through “teachable moments” – in contrast to a formal lecture, use a variety of situations – television news, TV dramas, books, newspaper.
Establish an ongoing conversation rather than giving a one-time speech.
Remember that you set the example. Avoid contradictions between your words and your actions. Don’t use illegal drugs, period!
Be creative! You and your child might act out various situation in which one person tries to pressure another to take a drug. Figure out two or three ways to handle each situation and talk about which works best. Exchange ideas with other parents.
How can I tell if a child is using drugs?
Identifying illegal drug use may help prevent further abuse. Possible signs include:
Change in moods – more irritable, secretive, withdrawn, overly sensitive, inappropriately angry, euphoric. Less responsible – late coming home, late for school or class, dishonest.
Changing friends or changing lifestyles – new interests, unexplained cash.
Physical deterioration – difficulty in concentration, loss of coordination, loss of weight, unhealthy appearance.
Why do kids use drugs?
Young people say they turn to alcohol and other drugs for one or more of the following reasons:
- To do what their friends are doing
- To escape pain in their lives
- To fit in
- For fun
- To take risks
Take A Stand!
Educate yourself about the facts surrounding alcohol and other drug use. You will lose credibility with your child if your information is not correct.
Establish clear family rules against drug use and enforce them consistently.
Develop your parenting skills through seminars, networking with other parents, reading, counseling, and support groups. Work with other parents to set community standards – you don’t raise a child alone.
Volunteer at schools, youth centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, or other activities in your community.
Ten Things You Can Do To Stop Violence
Ten Things Kids Can Do To Stop Violence:
- Settle arguments with words, not fists or weapons. Don’t stand around and form an audience.
- Learn safe routes for walking in the neighborhood, and know good places to seek help. Trust your feelings, and if there’s a sense of danger, get away fast.
- Report any crimes or suspicious actions to the police, school authorities, and parents. Be willing to testify if needed.
- Don’t open the door to anyone you and your parents don’t know and trust.
- Never go anywhere with someone you and your parents don’t know and trust.
- If someone tries to abuse you, say no, get away, and tell a trusted adult. Remember, it’s not the victim’s fault.
- Don’t use alcohol and other drugs, and stay away from places and people associated with them.
- Stick with friends who are also against violence and drugs, and stay away from known trouble spots.
- Get involved to make school safer and better – having poster contests against violence, holding anti-drug rallies, counseling peers, and settling disputes peacefully. If there’s no program, help start one!
- Help younger children learn to avoid being crime victims. Set a good example and volunteer to help with community efforts to stop crime.
Ten Things Adults Can Do To Stop Violence:
- Set up a Neighborhood Watch or a community patrol, working with police.
- Make sure your streets and homes are well-lighted.
- Make sure that all the youth in the neighborhood have positive ways to spend their spare time, through organized recreation, tutoring programs, part-time work, and volunteer opportunities.
- Build a partnership with police, focus on solving problems instead of reacting to crises. Make it possible for neighbors to report suspicious activity or crimes without fear of retaliation.
- Take advantage of “safety in numbers” to hold rallies, marches, and other group activities to show you’re determined to drive out crime and drugs.
- Clean up the neighborhood! Involve everyone – teens, children, senior citizens. Graffiti, litter, abandoned cars, and run-down buildings tell criminals that you don’t care about where you live or each other. Call the local public works department and ask for help in cleaning up.
- Ask local officials to use new ways to get criminals out of your building or neighborhood. These include enforcing anti-noise laws, housing codes, health and fire codes, anti-nuisance laws, and drug-free clauses in rental leases.
- Work with schools to establish drug-free zones.
- Work with recreation officials to do the same for parks.
- Develop and share a phone list of local organizations that can provide counseling, job training, guidance, and other services that can help neighbors.
How to Deal With Being Bullied
You may feel like you’re alone if you’re being bullied at school and it may be hard to imagine that anyone else knows what you’re going through, but the truth is that there are millions of students being bullied in this world. The fact that a bully has chosen to pick on you is not your fault and often has nothing to do with you at all. As much as the bully may insult you and call you names, the reality is that bullying usually stems from something they are dealing with at home or in their own lives. This of course doesn’t make it oaky for someone to bully you.
If you’re being picked on and threatened by someone in your school there are a few things that you can do. Use these tips to help in dealing with bullying.
Tell Someone: You may think that by reporting the bullying to a parent or teacher will make things worse but often times an adult can be helpful in dealing with bullying and help you without the bully in question ever knowing you reported them. You may not want to be ‘a snitch’ or ‘a rat’, but telling someone is often the best way to help you deal with a bully.
It may seem easier said than done, but since bullies thrive on reaction and getting a rise out of the person they pick on, ignoring them and walking away gives them little to go after. If you don’t give in and give them the reaction they’re itching for, often times they’ll just move on and leave you alone.
Avoid Getting Violent
As tempting as it may be to physically attack your bully you really are better off to avoid fighting back with violence. Just like with the point mentioned above, your reaction is what the bully thrives on and getting violent will only aggravate the situation and make them want to bother you even more. And, since there is no way to predict how the bully will react, you could be setting yourself up to get seriously hurt. Refraining from physically fighting a bully doesn`t make you weak. It makes you better than them and keeps you from setting yourself up for more problems.
The Buddy System
If a bully is threatening violence then you should make a point of avoiding being alone in the presence of the bully. A bully is less likely to attack you physically if you are with others so make sure you walk to and from school with a friend or two and avoid being alone during breaks or recess or any other time where your bully may try to pick a fight with you.
Why Gangs Are Bad News
The idea of being in a gang might seem pretty cool, especially if you like gangster movies and music or even just the clothes. Sometimes people even think that being in a gang makes them popular, but before you start hanging out with people in gangs or think of joining one there are some things that you should know.
Gang members may tell you that you should join their gang because it’s cool and exciting. They’ll probably tell you that it will get you noticed and that you’ll be able to make some money and do some really cool stuff. What they don’t tell you is that the stuff that they do and think is cool is usually illegal and dangerous and can get you in trouble, arrested, hurt and maybe even killed. Is that cool?
The way gangs work is by getting together a group of people to intimidate and scare others and do illegal stuff. Joining a gang isn’t about being in a neat little group that will make you popular with the other kids in your school. Being in a gang is not about having fun. Being in a gang is not safe. And, if you do decide to hang with members of a gang then you can pretty much guarantee that you’re getting yourself into trouble and putting yourself and other people in danger. And something else that you probably don’t know (and that they won’t tell you), is that when you join a gang you will likely get bullied and lose your control. This means that even your fellow gang members will bully you and threaten you to do the bad things that they want you to do whether you want to or not. And, once you join a gang, you can’t just decide that you want to leave it. Gang members are afraid that once you leave their gang that you will tell others about the bad stuff that they do and get them in trouble and because of this they will do everything they can to stop you from leaving or from talking, even if it means hurting you or possibly even killing you.
If someone asks you to join a gang or if you know that there are gangs in your schools then the best thing that you can do is tell your parents or a teacher or even the police. Gangs are bad news for everyone and they are responsible for a lot of the crimes and violence inside and outside of schools. By reporting that there is gang activity you are making your school safer for yourself and everyone else around you.
Gang Awareness in Schools Needs to Target Boys and Girls
Once upon a time, the mention of a gang brought to mind hooligan boys with no purpose or direction that were just looking to get into things but not real trouble. Gangs were more affectionately recognized as getting into a little trouble but they didn’t go around carrying semi-automatic weapons and they weren’t girls. The face of today’s gang members have changed. They’re younger. They’re fiercer. They’re unafraid…and they’re girls. It would be a misstatement to say only older girls at that. Unfortunately, the reality that exists is that the age requirements are getting lower and the number of boys and girls who are taking up an interest in gang affiliation has increased in many areas.
The outline of what constitutes a gang has evolved over the years. Gone are the days when members all have to wear a matching scarf or jacket. Many gangs are opting for more permanent marking such as tattoos and if you don’t believe your 12 year old can go to a tattoo parlor or basement tattoo artist and get a tattoo, you’re in need of a wakeup call. A child who gives the appearance in size of being around the age of 16 or 17 can walk into most tattoo shops with cash in hand and no questions will be asked.
Where poverty and crime are high, many such neighborhoods have gangs because they are able to prey on the young and defenseless. Gang affiliation also often creates the appearance of status and affluence, which is a powerful attraction for poor and lonely young boys and girls. Additionally, these gangs are often the drug running circuits and local youth are used as delivery people and sidewalk sellers because they are less likely to get picked up by the police.
Many children from these areas do not voluntarily choose to become part of a gang however. Often they are observed as loners and targeted by existing gang members. When this happens, they are offered the “protection” and strength of the gang and told that it’s in their best interest to join. Subsequently, these children find themselves forced to commit illegal activities to avoid the same punishment the gang delivers to non-gang members.
Gang awareness in schools needs to approach girls and boys and to give them options and information about what to do if they are being threatened by a gang member. There are many organizations that offer the great speeches and hand out t-shirts about saying no to gangs but what about when these children have to walk the gang-filled streets alone? Who is there to help and protect them? When schools take advantage of available resources such as after school programs and buddy systems, more girls and boys can say no to gangs without fear.
Gang Activities in School and Crisis Management
Are you a parent or teacher and noticed suspicious behavior within your school? Is this behavior in the form of group activities taking place that are questionable? If so, there may be gang activity occurring within your school. There are three levels of gang activity that you should be aware of. Those levels include hard core, “wannabes” that emulate gang activity, and business people who provide gang-related services to students engaging in gang activity or who may potentially engage in gang activity. The first two may exist on school grounds, while the others sneak their way into the path of gang members or potential gang members.
Identifying Gang Members
There are also observable indicators that can tell you if there are gang members within your school. Those indicators are:
The wannabes tend to wear hats, scarves, and jackets that resemble one another. They may also all have the same haircut. Hard core gang members tend to refrain from this behavior, making them more difficult to spot.
They may all wear the same colors.
Their shoelaces may all be the same. Sometimes gang members are more subtle in their uniformity, so it is important to look at every detail.
They may wear a uniform pendant on their jackets.
There may be graffiti on their notebooks and on other items that belong to them. Symbols to look for include the Star of David, pitchfork, six points, and six dots.
There are a number of strategies that can be used with some being simpler than others. For instance, you can assist in controlling the entrances of the schools. A sign can be posted that says that all who enter the school are subject to a search.
Another thing is that students should be shown respect by the school administration whether they belong to gangs or not. Those who are in gangs want respect and having respect means they won’t resort to violence. It is also important to utilize the drug, alcohol, and sex programs within the school to teach respect and emphasize self-esteem.
There may also be gang intervention programs in your community and groups at the school focused on ending violence. Look into becoming a part of these programs and groups in order to learn as much as you can and actively intervene when gang activity is known or suspected.
One way to truly intervene in the case that there is gang violence on school property is to have a school crisis team put in place. This team is able to evaluate any and all situations regarding violence in school. When it comes to gang violence, doing such things as removing graffiti from around the school, confiscating questionable items and clothing, and simply having the occasional assembly regarding violence that educates students can make a considerable difference.