So who's the best person to teach our kids about substance abuse? A Georgia-based study says perhaps it’s the parents.
Their two-year prevention program relied on African-American parental participation in hopes of being more involved in helping their children deal with issues such a racism, fighting and peer pressure.
Researchers from the University of Georgia's Center for Family Research focused on rural teens as opposed to typical urban teens, because recent data has shown that these problems are not just an inner-city problem anymore. Rates of drug use, depression and violence are on the rise among Black youth who live in smaller farm towns or towns with small populations.
So researchers in the Strong African-American Families Community Dissemination Model Project recruited 500 Black teens, invited one parent (usually the mother) to come in for five two-hour sessions. In one group of 250 teens, the teens learned about the importance of having self-control, dealing with the emotional impact of racism and why studying and having goals is important for their future. In that same set, their parents were given some pointers on how to set boundaries and rules with their children, how to help them with school and setting goals and how to talk about substance abuse and spotting signs of abuse.
In the comparison group, the teens and parents were only given pointers about working out and eating healthy.
It appears to have made an impact. Reuters reported:
Before the sessions started and almost two years later, the researchers interviewed teens about their drug, cigarette and alcohol use, symptoms of depression and behavioral problems, including whether they'd gotten into fights or been suspended from school.
Before the program, they found rates of conduct problems and depression symptoms were "moderate to high," while substance use was low.
At the final interview, kids who'd attended the program reported about one-third fewer recent conduct incidents, and about half as many had drug and alcohol problems as the comparison group [who did not focus on substance and behavioral issues]. They also had slightly fewer.
It's pretty clear what the takeaway is: Parents have to be more involved when it comes to their kids.
Gene Brody, lead researcher of the study told Reuters, "There was great excitement around the program. These parents realize there's not a lot of opportunity to help them or to help their youth develop in a way that's going to put them on a path to success."
Now if we can only have more of these programs across the country, I can only imagine the difference we could see in our communities.
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