By Art Hunter
There’s a new drug abuse prevention initiative coming out of Columbus, and Clermont County Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg says that it’s a program he supports.
The initiative is called “Start Talking!” and is a prevention-focused program designed to promote conversation in order to stop drug abuse before it starts. The program has four components, each of which is designed to start conversations between kids and parents, law enforcement, and other adults about drug use.
“I support such initiatives and believe that ‘teamwork’ and collaboration among various entities is essential if we are to effectively address the complex issues facing our communities,” Rodenberg said. “We’ll provide any support and help that we can.”
The first component of the program is called “5 minutes for life” and is led by the Highway Patrol, local law enforcement, and high schools and the Ohio Athletic Association. This part of the program has troopers, law enforcement officers, and National Guard members talking to student athletes to encourage them to become student anti-drug ambassadors to their peers.
“The idea is to get students’ peers on board with the anti-drug message,” Rodenberg said. “It’s more effective to have students talk to their peers than to have the sheriff or trooper or some other adult talk to them.”
Another component of the new initiative is called “Know!”
Know! targets parents and caregivers of middle school students increases communication between them and students with twice per month emails that offer tips on talking about drugs with middle school students.
Parents360 Rx is the third component. It is a community education program that educates adults about drug abuse, so that they can then engage their children about the hazards of drug abuse.
The fourth component, “Building Youth Resiliency,” focuses on giving schools the tools they need to build students’ confidence and and self-esteem. With that confidence, it is believed, they will be able to resist the peer pressure to use drugs.
Tracy Plouck, the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, says that the program primarily focuses on middle school students.
“This is a period of life where kids are most impressionable,” Plouck said. “This is when they will decide how they want to respond when someone offers them drugs or alcohol.”
Plouck said that young people are 50 percent less likely not to use drugs or alcohol if their parents talk about not using them.
“We want to put tools into the hands of parents and other adults to try and open up conversation,” Plouck said.
More information about “Start Talking!” can be found online at StartTalking.Ohio.gov.