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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

Parents get new tool in fight against drug abuse

By Samantha Critchell
Associated Press

NEW YORK — At school, children are exposed to all sorts of new things: the most up-to-date computer language, the hottest fashions, hippest phrases and, possibly, the newest illegal drugs.

Parents, who often spend most of the day at office desks, don't always have the resources to teach them the same things.

Not knowing what their children know puts parents at an immediate disadvantage in their efforts to keep their household drug-free, says John Walters, the nation's drug czar.

And if parents think drugs are not an issue, "that's wishful thinking," Walters says.

To put parents in the same loop as their kids, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which Walters oversees, has launched the At Work Program as part of its National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Through the initiative, partner employers will disseminate information advising and encouraging parents on how to have an open line of communication about drugs with their children.

The Anti-Drug campaign will provide articles that can be included in company newsletters and Intranet sites, links to local drug-prevention resources and information about ordering parenting brochures.

A how-to pamphlet offers scores of tips about listening to kids, warning them about drugs and what to do if drugs are already a problem.

"We're trying to get parents to be proactive," explains Walters. "Kids who hear about the risks of drugs directly from their parents are more receptive."

The program aims to provide a sophisticated-yet-user-friendly delivery system answering questions such as "What is Ecstasy?" and "Whom do I go to at the school if I suspect a problem?"

Being able to talk about these topics with colleagues at work — without having to initiate the discussion — should be a valuable asset to parents.

"It's helpful to talk with another parent about tough choices ... there's a lot of native knowledge of experience out there," Walters says. "Parents can also do their research and talk, and get information without their kids in the room asking why there's such an interest in drugs."