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Laguna's Teen Drinking Rate Prompts New Drug Prevention Program

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention Steering Committee announced plans for a multi-year program aimed at curbing teen drinking.

Story submitted by Laguna Beach Unified School District:

The Laguna Beach Unified School District Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention Steering Committee has launched its new Multi-Year Implementation Plan. The three-year plan is focused on Prevention, Intervention and Restorative plans.

The Committee’s strategic plan includes ongoing implementation of the District’s PBIS programs at all sites; implementation of an evidenced-based Botvin LifeSkills education program in grades 4 – 9; increased parent education opportunities including parent support groups; increased student activities to connect students to school, and formation of an active youth advisory called Catalyst Club.

LBUSD students exceed statewide rates of students who have tried alcohol during their lifetime.

Irene White, Director of Special Education/Student Services facilitates the Committee and serves as the Laguna Beach Community Coalition co-lead. She reports that the community has a significant amount of education and community work to do. Although data shows declining percentages from two years ago, they are still unacceptably high for school aged children.

The role of the parent is critical. Parents are the most influential people in a child’s decision not to drink or experiment with alcohol. According to The Century Council, February 2012, 83% of youth report parents are the leading influence in their decision to not drink alcohol. This means re-defining what adolescents are and are not allowed to do.

Given their brain development, teenagers do not understand the full range of consequences of their choices regarding drugs and alcohol. As adults/parents, it is important to provide the guidance and supervision they need. Teen drinkers are at greater risk of addiction, as well as academic problems, risky sexual behavior and other drug use. It is vital that students better understand the  facts related to the health risks.

The District efforts have helped reduce adolescent drug and alcohol use, however it cannot be done alone. The Laguna Beach Community Coalition, over 16 agencies strong, is equally committed to this goal and supports the concept of a City Social Host Ordinance to reinforce the message that youth are a high priority in the Laguna Beach community.

Thurston Middle School Principal Jenny Salberg states, “I am proud of the work done by the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Committee. Under the leadership of Irene White, we have made great strides helping our students make well-informed decisions and positive choices. Our work as a district must be partnered with our community to best support each and every young person in our District.”

El Morro Elementary School Principal Chris Duddy adds, “Knowledge is power and the Laguna Beach Unified School District continues to educate its students about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. We also teach students about resilience so they won’t give into peer pressure, yet we cannot do it alone. That is why we are partnering with parents and the Community Coalition in our education and prevention efforts.”

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