Pubdate: Wed, 01 Nov 2006
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2006 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Carol Allen
Note: Carol Allen is a Prevention Specialist and !mpact Futures chairperson
for the Amarillo Independent School District.
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Red Ribbon Week)


Red Ribbon Week, observed in Amarillo public schools Oct. 29 through
Nov. 4, gives Americans the opportunity to join together and honor
Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena, who was killed in the line of
duty by drug dealers.

Amarillo ISD schools will encourage students to be drug-free with this
special week of activities that focuses on the positive benefits that
will result in their lives from making wise choices. We will stress to
them that substance abuse is particularly damaging to them, the young
people of our nation. We know that it is a contributing factor in the
three leading causes of death for teenagers: accidents, homicides and

However, we will continue to see the ravages of the "war on drugs" and
will be horrified when the casualties strike too close to home. Our
own newspaper headlines chronicle the ills society suffers as a result
of drug use: increased crime rates due to methamphetamine use in our
community; young football players arrested for felony cocaine charges;
drunken motorcycle drivers having fatal wrecks; and the list goes on.
Individuals die because of their own choice to use alcohol or drugs or
because other people choose to drink or use substances.

The community coalition named !mpact Futures involves many agencies
working together to reduce drug use in youth and, over time, in
Amarillo's adult population. We know that students who have a lot of
"protective factors" are less likely to use drugs or engage in other
high-risk behaviors. Search Institute calls these the 40 Developmental
Assets and lists four external areas (Support, Empowerment, Boundaries
and Expectations, and Constructive Use of Time) and four internal
areas (Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies
and Positive Identity).

How can we encourage young people to thrive in our community and not
need drugs? Growing into adulthood can be dangerous if young people
don't get the help they need. In order for them to arrive at that
destination intact, it will take the support of the whole "village" of
our community to help students realize their powerful potential and
resist the lure of drugs. Our young people need to be empowered by
feeling valued, valuable and safe.

We need to ensure that youth have boundaries and consequences that are
clear and carefully explained. Parents need to monitor their
children's whereabouts and risk saying "no" to requests to "go along"
with the social norms that allow underage drinking. Police and school
officials need to enforce the laws like the one that prohibits the
use, possession or purchase of tobacco by anyone under 18.

Kids need constructive use of time, which includes learning,
developing new skills, using their creativity, being with other caring
youth and adults, and interacting with their families and friends in
positive ways. If they have a strong commitment to learning, they will
desire to succeed in school, have a sense of the lasting importance of
learning and a belief in their own abilities. They will find positive
values as they discover what is important to them and what matters to
people they care about.

Social competencies will help young people know how to interact
effectively with others, how to make difficult decisions, and how to
cope with new situations.

And last, we can nurture, celebrate and affirm young people's positive
identity, because this helps them believe they can and do make a
difference in our world; they will feel good about themselves; and
they will know their future is bright.

The benefits of being drug-free far outweigh the consequences of using
drugs for all of us.

Please support the emphasis of Red Ribbon Week Friday, Nov. 3, by
wearing red. Show your support of being drug-free by always being a
good role model.

Carol Allen is a Prevention Specialist and !mpact Futures chairperson
for the Amarillo Independent School District.
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