Adults play key role in modeling choices

Thanks to Denise Davis for her interest in our young people, as expressed in her letter (Herald, Nov. 9), “Family, societal influences hamper students.” She mentions declining test scores may be linked to the escalation of drug and alcohol addiction. From reading the headlines, one might think that substance use among the young simply increases every year. Fortunately, our perceptions do not always match reality.

Case in point is that in La Plata County, youngsters’ (grades six through 12) substance use has decreased during the last two years. The three school districts participate in the biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, and results from the 2011-12 La Plata County survey showed 30-day cigarette use decreased 33 percent, alcohol use decreased 16 percent and marijuana use decreased 6.6 percent. While there may be many reasons this is happening, one is surely the increased awareness that adults have a role in building developmental assets for our young people that in turn reduces risk-taking behavior such as substance abuse.

Some examples of how local adults are doing this include being positive role models, being that one caring adult for a child who is not his or her own and by fostering positive family communication and setting clear rules. Hats off to the “Lasso Tobacco – Celebrating Community Norms Coalition and the Children, Youth and Family Master Plan” for spreading the assets message in our community.

Lauren Patterson


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