This article appeared in the Scottsdale Republic, in response to “Scottsdale schools consider youth survey a call to action”, February 27, 2009:
If you are a parent, like me, with kids in the Scottsdale Unified School District, you probably found the results from the 2008 AZ Youth Survey regarding alcohol use alarming. 42.6% of eighth graders, 69.8% of 10th graders, and 79% of 12th graders have used alcohol. As I read these statistics, I felt helpless. I know that kids are going to experiment. So, realistically what can I, as a parent, do to protect my daughters from the real dangers of underage drinking?
A few of you may have heard of the Safe Home Pledge started by the Parents for Prevention several years ago at Arcadia HS and Ingleside Middle School. Basically, the purpose of the Pledge is to raise awareness and initiate conversations amongst parents. Parents who sign the pledge are designated in their school’s student directory with an asterisk beside their name signifying that they have committed to being a “Safe Home”. They pledge to not serve alcohol or other drugs to minors. They also pledge to not allow minors to consume alcohol or other drugs in their home or on their property and to supervise teens’ activities in their homes. They further promise to communicate with “Safe Home” parents of a child whom they observe using or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
The underlying promise is that we will look out for each other’s kids, not allow or tolerate the use of underage drinking, and let each other know if our children are using alcohol and drugs. It’s the old “it takes a village” idea. I know that if parents from my children’s school chose not to sign the Safe Home Pledge, I would seriously question letting my children go to their homes.
In recent years, the Safe Home Pledge has not been uniformly or consistently distributed throughout SUSD’s middle and high schools. I am working with Christine Roadifer, President of the Scottsdale Parent Council, to ensure that they are distributed next fall. Don’t wait for us, go to: http://www.scottsdaleparentcouncil.org/SAFEHOMEMOVEMENT.html
Ask the PTO and administrators at your school to include “Safe Homes” in the student directory. If taken seriously and followed, this Pledge can serve as an impetus for important conversations about the dangers of underage drinking and drug use within your family and amongst other parents in your community. There is no silver bullet to solving this widespread community problem but committing to the Safe Home Pledge is a parental step in the right direction.
Dana Sherman, Parent and
School Program Director
Scottsdale Prevention Institute