A lot more than just saying no

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By The Staff

We look at a tough topic this week, Asset #31, Restraint. According to the Search-Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they believe it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.”

The key to being successful in this area is conversation and education. When I sat on a local board looking at poor youth choices, I suggested that we get some kids to join us that were in trouble and not just high achievers. There were adults in the room that looked at me as if I were from another planet.

The truth is, we could probably come up with a short list of what makes kids successful, but not necessarily what would have diverted youth on to the good path instead of making bad decisions. I can tell you what made me a “good kid,” even though I wasn’t perfect. The answer to that question was that my parents would have simply beaten the devil out of me.

Yes, that’s exactly what I mean; there would have been no discussion, no negotiation. I was lucky in that I was the youngest of three and the first two were boys, so I didn’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed to catch on to how to survive the teen years.

Maybe if we asked kids today who get in trouble, we’d learn that they didn’t have a caring adult as a family member, for them to talk to. Perhaps the pressure is too hard and they have no way or skills to de-stress. I know Dawn Barr and Karen Locke, two Los Alamos Middle School counselors are actually spending time teaching kids what they can do for themselves, when it comes to their own stressors.

The thing is that in this community, the data shows that some of our youth aren’t drinking or taking drugs as a rite of passage or experimentation.

Our data shows that too many are using alcohol and drugs to escape. They are not just drinking to get a buzz or a little high, they are drinking to get drunk.

You can start by asking yourself a simple question – How often you’ve discussed sex or alcohol use with your children? So how does one broach the subject? The lines of communication have to be open. There are plenty of books and websites to help you with the process. It starts with baby steps, in not over reacting when confronted with a tough situation.

What if you’re just not the person to deal wiith the topic? What if you’re a single mom or dad of the opposite sex or a grandparent raising a young child and don’t know the answers?

One resource might be to ask a friend with students a bit older. You might ask them what they did or wish they had done.

Do you have a trustworthy neighbor or a friend of the family you and your child feel safe talking too? If so, pave the way and ask them if they would be willing to spare some time. Once I knew some teen girls having some trouble. I sent them a note with my cell phone number to say I was always there for them if they needed some help. You don’t have to solve the problems sometimes an ear is the only requirement.

Finally an untapped resource may be a pastor, rabbi or bishop. The other thing to remember is that speaking to a counselor is another way of information seeking.

When it comes to sexual activity, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Many teens today are doing things that would turn your hair gray, just to hear. Our local Public Health Nurse, Meghan Pfeffer is a treasure and a joy to work with for young and young at heart.

They’re located just between UNM-LA and the high school. They can answer any questions in a confidential, caring atmosphere.

Assets In Action will be located at another caring atmosphere this Tuesday.

You an learn more about the 40 Developmental Assets, request a free presentation and more from 11am-1pm in the Los Alamos National Bank lobby.

We will are also be selling CommUNITY Matters green grocery bags for just $2 each, to benefit our environment and our program.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Coordinator of the Assets In Action program and comments are welcome at 661-4846 or at AssetsInAction@att.net. You can also learn more form the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce at www.AssetsInAction.info.