Pubdate: Tue, 26 Nov 2002
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2002 The Decatur Daily
Author:  Bayne Hughes, DAILY Education Writer


Knowledge is the key to life - your child's life if you want to keep
your son or daughter off drugs.

"One of the biggest things is getting involved with your kids and have
the knowledge of the things they do," Decatur City Schools Resource
Officer Greg Cain said Monday night at a parent-training program at
the Decatur Utilities auditorium.

The program was the first of two sessions aimed at helping parents
develop better skills for interaction with children, learn about peer
pressure and identify potential drug use.

Cain said parents have to be concerned and involved in a child's life.
If a teenager wants to spend the night with a friend, he would call
the friend's parents to make sure the teen is actually staying the

"You don't have to do it in a confrontational way," Cain said. "Ask
them who is going to be there, what they need to bring, and if they
need to bring food."

Or, for a latch-key child, a term used for one who is home alone from
the time school gets out until a parent gets off work, he suggests
having a neighbor check on the child, or taking off early and
surprising the child occasionally.

Cain suggested developing routines early in a child's life that carry
through into the teenage years. For example, the parent who begins
checking a child's backpack in kindergarten for teacher notes can
continue that practice without raising suspicion. This gives the
parent the opportunity to look for signs of drug use or other problems
without raising suspicion.

According to Cain, parents should stay in contact with teachers and
principals, which is important not only for drug awareness but also
for a student's education. Often these adult figures notice a child's
problems before a parent does.

"My child knows that I talk to her teachers all of the time, and that
I've got all of their phone numbers and e-mails," Cain said.

Most importantly, don't ignore the red flags of drug use or other
problems, like changes in behavior, dress, sliding grades, new
friends, etc. Often a parent becomes detached from a teen and isn't
aware of all of the aspects of his or her life.

"Too often I hear, 'My child wouldn't do that,' and they ignore all of
the warning signs," Cain said.
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