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This week is Red Ribbon Week, during which we educate and encourage our students to lead a substance-free, healthy life. This is the time when our school community renews its pledge to remain drug-free. You are your children’s first and most important teacher. We would like to offer you some resources that may be helpful to you in contributing to this effort. Alcohol and tobacco are the most popular drugs, and also the most accessible to our youth. Here are some ways that you can help your child understand the message of remaining tobacco-free:

1. Discuss with your child the facts about tobacco and the harm it can cause. Talk with your child about addiction to tobacco and how difficult it would be to overcome this need.

2. Help your child realize that smoking is not a way to earn popularity or become “one of the in-crowd.” Encourage your child to be responsible and say “No” to using tobacco products if tempted by peers.

3. Play-act refusal skills so your child is able to resist tobacco products in real life.

4. Keep communications open. Create an atmosphere at home where your child feels free to discuss any pressure from others to use tobacco products.

5. If you smoke yourself, now is a good time to quit. Consider attending a stop smoking seminar or clinic, asking your physician for help, joining a support group on the Internet, or using an over-the-counter aid designed to help you overcome this addiction. Safeguard your family and friends from the dangers of secondhand smoke by not smoking in their presence.

6. Encourage your child to enjoy a variety of healthy activities. Help build your child’s self-esteem, by offering praise when the activities are done well, and when your child is obviously trying to do his or her best. Good self-esteem will help your child refuse drugs when pressured by peers.

An Age-By-Age Guide for Talking To Kids About Substance Abuse
(Taken from http://www.caron.org/an-age-by-age-guide-for-talking-to-kids-about-subst...)
It’s never too early to start talking to your children about substance abuse. Start when they are curious and begin to ask questions. By late elementary school, children may begin to see classmates smoking, drinking and trying drugs.
Pre-Kindergarten
◦ Teach your child that he/she should not drink out of random glasses. What looks like apple juice or orange juice at a party where adults are present could contain alcohol. You can also be very clear about whom they should take medication from. Explain that even though some medication may taste like bubble gum or look like candy, it is only acceptable for mom or dad or grandma/ grandpa (and other approved caregivers) to give it to them.

Kindergarten through Third Grade
◦ Keep your discussions about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs factual and focused on the present. Future consequences are too distant to have any meaning. Let them know that it’s not as easy to shoot a hoop or finish a puzzle while high on marijuana or that smoking causes bad breath.
◦ Talk to your kids about the drug-related messages they receive through advertisements, the news media, and entertainment sources. These messages may conflict with what you’ve taught them. Some TV shows or movies may even glamorize drinking/drug use. Encourage your kids to ask your questions about the messages they learn in other places. And remember to ask them how they feel about what they’ve heard – you’ll learn a great deal about what they’re thinking.
◦ Don’t put your child’s friends down. Underscore you child’s values and the importance of making decisions that are consistent with these values.


Fourth Grade through Sixth Grade
◦ Make sure your child knows your rules – and that you’ll enforce the consequences if rules are broken. Preteens can understand the reason for rules and appreciate having limits in place. This applies to no-use rules about alcohol – as well as bedtimes and homework. Research shows that kids are less likely to use alcohol/drugs if their parents have established a pattern of setting clear rules and consequences.
◦ Act out scenes with your child where people offer him/her drugs.
◦ Offer tools that help them out of a sticky situation and it’s more likely they willl actually get out of that situation. Kids who don’t know what to say or how to get away are more likely to give in to peer pressure. Let them know to use you as an excuse and say: “No, my mom would kill me if I smoked.” Urge them not to continue friendships with kids who have encouraged alcohol and drugs.
◦ Tell your child what makes him so special. Puberty can play tricks with a child’s self-esteem. At times, your child may move from having good feelings about himself and his life to some feelings of insecurity, doubt, and pressure. He needs to hear a lot of positive comments about his life and who he is as an individual – not just when he brings home an A.
Seventh through Twelfth Grade

We encourage you to repeat the tactics from fourth through sixth grade. You can also add these additional age appropriate strategies:
◦ It’s never a good idea to volunteer information about your past drinking experiences. However, if your teen asks and you did drink alcohol underage, respond honestly by saying that you wish you had made a different decision. Do not go into details about your escapades. 

◦ Talk to your child about how drinking alcohol is an adult privilege and responsibility. Also explain that as an adult, it’s ok for you to enjoy a glass of wine with a meal as long as it’s in moderation. Clarify that it’s never alright for adults to abuse alcohol – even though it’s legal for them. 

◦ Tell your teen that alcohol is a drug and reinforce what it can do to their mind and body. Teens are extremely concerned with their physical appearance. If they believe a substance will impair their looks and health, they may be less likely to be tempted. Tell them about a time you saw a friend or acquaintance get sick from alcohol – reinforce how completely disgusting it was.
◦ Don’t just leave your child’s substance abuse prevention to his school. 

◦ Topics you might want to talk about with your teen include: the connection between alcohol, tobacco and other drug consumption during pregnancy and birth defects in newborns; the potentially deadly effects of combining drugs; that anyone can become a chronic user or an addict and that even trying a drug or using it occasionally can have serious permanent consequences.
◦ Emphasize what alcohol/drug use can do to your teen’s future. Teens look ahead and think about their future. Discuss how substance use can ruin your teen’s chance of getting into the college she’s been dreaming about, landing the job she’s perfect for etc. Don’t be vague. Give real examples of teens who used alcohol, posted photos on Facebook and were kicked off a sports team or had a college admission rescinded.
◦ Use the news. If you see a news story about an alcohol-related car accident, talk to your teen about all the victims that an accident leaves in its wake. 

◦ Positive reinforcement matters. Compliment and encourage your teen for all the things she does well and for the positive choices she makes. Let them know they are seen and appreciated. And let them know how you appreciate what a good role model they are to siblings or for other kids in the community. Teens still care what their parents think. Let them know how deeply disappointed you would be if they used alcohol underage.
◦ Keep Talking. Talk often about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and about your expectations.
◦ Every day, they may be faced with “re-deciding” about substance abuse. Talking about substance abuse should continue through the teen years even into college.
◦ Scenarios change as your child ages. Continue to discuss different possible scenarios so they are prepared with an action plan if any arise.

How did Red Ribbon Week Come About?

Red Ribbon Week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of drug free America. And, perhaps more importantly, Red Ribbon Week commemorates the ultimate sacrifice made by DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, who died at the hands of drug traffikers in Mexico while fighting the battle against illegal drugs to keep our country and children safe.

The Story Behind the Symbol

Enrique "Kiki" Camarena grew up in a dirt-floored house with hopes and dreams of making a difference. Camarena worked his way through college, served in the Marines and became a police officer. When he decided to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out it. "I can't not do this," he told her. "I'm only one person, but I want to make a difference." The DEA sent Camarena to work undercover in Mexico investigating a major drug cartel believed to include officers in the Mexican army, police and government. On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent's side and shoved him in a car. One month later, his body was found in a shallow grave. He had been tortured to death.

Within weeks of his death in March of 1985, Camarena's Congressman, Duncan Hunter, and high school friend Henry Lozano, launched Camarena Clubs in Imperial Valley, California, Camarena's home. Hundreds of club members pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Camarena and others on behalf of all Americans. 2 These coalitions began to wear red badges of satin, red ribbons, as a symbol to his memory. The Red Ribbon Week campaign emerged from the efforts of these clubs and coalitions.

Today, Red Ribbon Week is nationally recognized and celebrated, helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena's memory and further the cause for which he gave his life. The Red Ribbon Campaign also became a symbol of support for the DEA's efforts to reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs. By wearing a red ribbon during the last week in October, Americans demonstrate their ardent opposition to drugs.

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Dr. Diana Gonzalez-Eastep's picture

Dr. Diana Gonzalez-Eastep

(305) 222-8751 ext. 1251

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