Drug use among teenagers is down in Iowa and throughout the United States, according to recent surveys and local parents are being encouraged to talk to their children about drug use.
"Parents talking with their kids is one of the first steps they can take to make sure their kids will make healthy choices in life," said Liddy Hora, coordinator of the Fort Dodge Drug Free Alliance.
The Fort Dodge Drug Free Alliance is a coalition of 20 community members who work together to bring healthy living and drug prevention programs to area families and schools.
"One of the primary focuses of the Drug Free Alliance is to get parents talking to their children," said Hora. "One thing we want them to know is that prevention starts with the parents at home."
Hora said that as times change, parents and children alike are becoming more receptive to open communication.
"Good open communication is one of the top ways talk about drugs and alcohol," she said. "The line of communication is better and much more open now than it was when most parents were growing up."
There are a number of programs available in Fort Dodge that are also aimed toward drug abuse prevention. The Drug Free Alliance offers the "safe home" program through which parents offer to supervise their children's activities and not provide any drug or alcohol products. Hora said there are about 200 homes around Fort Dodge that have signed up to be safe homes. The Strengthening Families program offered through Iowa State University Extension is a seven-week program that encourages communication among families and teaches skills such as how to resist peer pressure. Now in its fifth week, Strengthening Families has 70 families enrolled in the program.
Hora encourages parents to talk with their children about making good choices starting at a young age.
"As soon as children are starting school is a good time for parents to start talking with their kids," she said. "Conversations should be age appropriate, though. When kids are younger, parents can start by talking about making healthy choices in life. It can be worked into daily conversation. There are things in the news every day that show the consequences of someone's bad choices, those can be used as conversation pieces. We really want parents to say and do the right things. They should be an example to their kids every day."
Contact Emilie Nelson at 513-2141 or email@example.com