Pride Survey: Results show parents have work to do

“It can be alarming at times,” said Wood County Board of Education President Rick Olcott. “It scares us a little.”

He was talking about the results of this year’s Pride Survey on student drug, alcohol and tobacco use and perceptions, and words like alarming or scary are understatements.

Middle and high school students in Wood County reported, for example, the majority of abuse of drugs or alcohol takes place on the weekends, at home or at a friend’s house.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook was going easy on parents and guardians when he said “That’s why as parents we have to be very vigilant of what our kids are doing and when.”

But perhaps more disturbing — and another reminder to parents that it is never too early to start talking to your kids and watching them like a hawk — is that kids reported averages ages for first use of alcohol and tobacco at 13, marijuana at 13.6 and, astoundingly, prescription drugs at 12.8.

That is average age, by the way. That means a frightening number of kids are trying those things for the first time at even younger ages.

Talk to your kids early and often, folks; and know where they are and what they are doing. You are not their friend, you are not their buddy, you are not the “cool” parent. Your job is to help them navigate through this confusing time, not succumb to it.

Meanwhile, there was another interesting little tidbit for lawmakers talking about legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Wood County students said of the four substances in the survey, marijuana is the easiest to get. Why? Because it is NOT regulated by state or federal government.

“You have to be 18 to get tobacco. You have to be 21 to buy alcohol. You have to have a doctor write you a prescription,” said Hosaflook. “And then you have marijuana. Forty-four percent of our juniors said marijuana was the easiest thing to get.”

Food for thought, perhaps. But not nearly as immediate a problem as the need for parents to change the timing and strategy of their effort to help kids stand up to peer pressure and make better decisions.