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WOOD RIVER JUNCTION - It is not often that you see parents and teens openly conversing about drug use in high school, but that was exactly the case Monday night in the Chariho High School library, where a group of seven students spoke candidly and answered the questions of worried parents.
Sponsored by the Chariho Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention, the event was a joint meeting with the Chariho Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) that featured a student panel and the expert knowledge of a local police officer.
Task Force Grant Manager Danny Nesmith said that the meetingâ€™s purpose was to give parents a first hand look at what their kids deal with in school, to share information, and to get people in tune with whatâ€™s happening.
Chariho High School prevention Counselor Danette Bray starting the night off with a sobering truth.
â€śDonâ€™t take for granted that your child wonâ€™t use,â€ť she said. â€śevery student that enters this high school will have a choice.â€ť
â€śAny parent that thinks their teen tells them everything, is crazy,â€ť she added.
However, that was the point of the meeting, to get students to openly share information with adults that they normally would not. The parents of the students on the panel were not at the meeting.
The panel was made up of seven students, all female, and they spoke about a range of topics. Some of them were members of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
Among other topics, the panel discussed problems with perception drugs, being exposed to drug use by people at work, peer pressure and the stress that comes with it, the different drugs used among students, the use of designated drivers and studentsâ€™ first exposures to alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.
When asked by the audience if it is mostly the popular or unpopular kids in school that use drugs, a few of the panel members said â€śeveryoneâ€ť in unison.
Nesmith said that he appreciated the candor of the student panel because it facilitated the sharing of information amongst parents and students.
â€śThe main thing we are looking for is creating awareness and providing information to parents,â€ť Nesmith said. â€śThe greatest deterrent for substance abuse is parents.â€ť
Richmond Police Officer and Drug Recognition Expert William Litterio spoke at length during the meeting about the dangers of substance abuse, some tricks that teen users try to pull on their parents, and ways to prevent youth from abusing drugs and alcohol.
â€śI think the biggest thing is that the teens recognize that there is a problem,â€ť he said.
For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.