Winchester to Provide Parents with Tools to Address Youth Substance Use
November 20, 2018
Seven cities and towns in the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition (MVPHC), including the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community, are banding together to launch a social marketing campaign aimed at preventing underage drinking and substance use among middle school-aged youth. The campaign comes after studies found that although parents and guardians would like their children to not use alcohol and other drugs, many expressed a belief that underage drinking is inevitable.
Over the past two years, the MVPHC, which includes Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Winchester and Wakefield, has collected and evaluated data on youth alcohol and substance use. It has also conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with parents regarding their attitudes and behaviors in regard to youth alcohol and substance use. Their findings include the following:
- Youth substance use in the Mystic Valley region is higher than the state average.
- Parents/guardians generally want to do the right thing but are not sure how to begin.
- Parents/guardians are willing to talk with other parents but aren’t doing that currently.
- Some parents believe that alcohol use is a rite of passage and that allowing their children to drink as adolescents will teach them how to drink “responsibly.’
“Although parents and guardians may believe that youth alcohol use is inevitable, research shows that parental intervention is effective in discouraging alcohol and substance use in children,” said Elizabeth Parsons, MVPHC Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator. “Our goal is to share fact-based information and tools they can use to have meaningful conversations with their children and adults in the community.”
Prevention research shows that social marketing campaigns targeting parents are the best ways to change cultural attitudes and influence behavior. Parents in the MVPHC region reported that they get their news and information from print and online newspapers, radio, Facebook, and in-person at community gathering spots and school and town meetings. Parents also heavily rely on information from school correspondence and medical professionals. The MVPHC campaign will leverage in-person communications, the MVPHC’s quarterly e-newsletter, and social media to reach its intended audience.
“The MVPHC social marketing campaign will be aimed primarily at middle school families as that seems to be the time that parents and guardians are most ready for this message,” noted Lauren Chambers, MVPHC Opioid Abuse Prevention Coordinator. “That said, it’s never too early or too late to address these issues with your kids.”
The campaign will give realistic and actionable steps that parents can take to learn more about substance use prevention, how to talk to their children, and why and how to talk to other parents as well. Parents will be educated on the substance use issues that youth are facing along with tools that parents can use to have honest conversations with their children. In these conversations parents will be urged to communicate expectations, rules and consequences for alcohol and drug use. Lastly, parents will be encouraged to speak openly with other parents about their family position on alcohol and drug use in order to build a culture that values a healthy community for children.
The MVPHC’s work is supported by grants from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services For more information, visit www.mysticvalleypublichealth.org.
About the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition
The Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition (MVPHC) is a coalition of health departments representing Malden, Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield and Winchester. It was developed in 2004 to address Emergency Preparedness mandates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since 2004, a strong system of collaboration has expanded efforts throughout the region, including a regional tobacco control grant affecting tobacco policy in the Mystic Valley. In 2013, the MVPHC received the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (MOAPC) grant, and in 2015 received the Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) grant focusing on underage drinking and marijuana. The MVPHC is a collaboration of both grant-funded and non-funded community coalitions.
Contact the MVPHC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (781)-393-2449 or (781)-979-4132. Find them online at https://www.mysticvalleypublichealth.org/. Follow them on Twitter @mysticvalleyphc or on Facebook at Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition.
Contact the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community at email@example.com. Find them online at https://winchestercoalitionsafercommunity.com. Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Winchester.Coalition.Safer.Community/?ref=bookmarks, on Twitter @WinchCoalition and on Instagram at WinchesterCoalitionSafer.
Teen vaping has become a big health concern as more kids are using e-cigarettes (including the popular JUUL) in school bathrooms and even in classrooms.
For more information, download this presentation: WPS Vaping & E Cigarettes.
The Coalition will be hosting an evening discussion on Vaping on April 12, 2018 in the Winchester Room of Winchester Town Hall, featuring Dr. Alan Woolf, MD, MPH, Pediatrician from Boston Children’s Hospital, and Regional Tobacco Coordinator Maureen Buzby. We hope you can join us.
Top Ten Back-to-School Tips to Help Your Child Thrive
From Challenge Success, http://www.challengesuccess.org
With kids back in school, these practical tips are helpful reminders for ways to build resilience, share your values, and support the overall health and well-being of your children.
- Ask your child: “How was your day? Learn anything interesting? Get to spend time with friends?” instead of “How did you do on the math test?”
- Resist the urge to correct the errors in your child’s homework. It’s your child’s work, not yours.
- Work done with integrity is more important than an A. Pressure to achieve only high grades can make students resort to cheating.
- Make time for PDF: playtime, downtime, family time. Research shows PDF is critical for overall well-being.
- Create a technology-free environment during mealtimes. Every adult and child can benefit from a break from constant interruptions and distractions.
- Collaborate with your child’s teachers. Assume best intentions and work together to solve problems.
- Fight the temptation to bring your child’s forgotten homework to school. Kids gain resilience by learning from small failures.
- An extra hour of sleep is more valuable than an extra hour of studying. Research shows sleep deprivation can be associated with depression and anxiety.
- When your child wants to talk with you, stop what you are doing and engage. Does “I hate school” really mean something else: “I am being bullied” or “I don’t fit in?”
- Help your child develop his or her interests and strengths. Discover what your child really loves to do outside of school, not what you think a college admissions officer would like to see on an application.
Winchester Coalition for A Safer Community
As we get ready for school ending and the summer months are upon us, we think it is important for our community to think about our kids, the free time they will have this summer, and the risky situations that they might find themselves in. Some questions to ask ourselves:
- Do our kids have healthy activities to occupy their time: will they have jobs, be at camp, taking classes or enrolled in any programs?
- What parameters have we placed on daily activities, both during the day and at night? Have we set curfews? Do our kids have their own cars or access to Uber or Lyft?
- Do we have clear rules about cell phone use and can we reach our kids if we need them? Are there rules about responding to calls and messages from us?
- Do we know their friends and who they will be hanging out with?
- Are our kids hanging out in our fields and woods (e.g., Ginn, Manchester, Leonard, the Fells)?
- Do we know the parents of these friends and if the parents are at home when our kids are over? Do their friends’ parents share the same parenting philosophy regarding underage drinking and smoking/vaping?
- Do we fully understand what vaping is? Do we know the risks associated with vaping?
- What’s in the backpacks? Do they need a backpack during the summer?
- What’s in our liquor cabinets and “beer fridges” and should we monitor quantities so that we know if something is missing?
- What’s in our medicine cabinets? Do we have our prescription medication safeguarded?
Summer is a great time for our kids to relax and enjoy a break from the stress of the school year. Let’s help them have a happy and healthy summer!