Sunday, November 05, 2000

Kids clue parents to sobriety

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Next spring, Butler County parents will get pamphlets written by the county's children outlining what adults can do to help their sons and daughters remain alcohol- and drug-free.

        Gathering information about what kids call safe places — those unknown to adults where kids go to drink or get high in Butler County — was the focus of Friday's Youth Summit, sponsored by the Butler County Drug Free School Consortium. Middle and high schools across the county sent about 100 sixth- to 12th-graders to the summit.

        “There are places where kids go to use” illegal substances, said Jill Jepson, coordinator of prevention/in tervention programs for the Lakota Schools. “We think parents should know where they are. We need to create more awareness among parents that this is going on and they need to take more seriously what their children are saying and recognize that it's happening at younger and younger ages.”

        Thirteen-year-old Ashley McCurdy said many parents don't believe that drugs are a problem until high school. But she said last year as a seventh-grader at Lakota's Ridge Junior School, she went to a party where alcohol was present.

        “I think this (summit) is good. It's kids my own age who believe the same things I do,” Ashley said.

        The students also prepared and taped a public service announcement that will be aired on school closed circuit systems and on community access cable channels next spring.

        “Kids are opening up and sharing their secrets. It's their way of showing leadership,” said Tom Kelechi, chairman of the consortium and director of the Butler County Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council.

        Steve Ellis, 17, a senior at Stephen T. Badin High School, said students “need positive role models ... kids get a lot in school and parents need to reinforce that — but not by lecturing.”

        When Ross Middle School student Eddie Traynor met with other students in his small group, it surprised him how common — and so easily accepted by parents — some lies were that his peers used to explain missing alcohol. This was his second year of attendance at the summit.

        “I came for a 'fresher. I wanted to help other kids understand why they shouldn't do drugs or alcohol,” Eddie said. “I learned more and I liked how in the group we talked about ways kids hide alcohol and drugs from their parents. I think this will help parents.”


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