Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 20-29, has become an annual tradition in Glen Cove. The community-wide message is to "Prevent substance abuse and to make healthy choices in our lives." The message is an important one in the lives of our children. In our elementary and middle schools, participation in an art contest "Follow your dreams, don't do drugs," sponsored by the Glen Cove Citizens Committee Against Substance Abuse is part of the weeklong event. Judging for the art contest is done by the high school SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club. The North Shore University Hospital Alan Toffler 5K Run/Walk Against Substance Abuse takes place on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 9 a.m. for PeeWee Races and Fun Runs, and 10 a.m. for the 5K Run/Walk. On Tuesday evening, Oct. 29, the Glen Cove School District and Glen Cove PTA will sponsor a Parent University at 7:30 p.m. for elementary to high school parents, offering a choice of workshops including substance abuse issues, talking to children, educational and health issues.
As parents and community members, this is a time to think about our conversations with the children in our lives and the examples that we set for them. It is tragic to reflect upon the homecoming dance that occurred last month in Scarsdale, where hundreds of students arrived drunk, some vomiting and falling down, some unconscious, some hospitalized for acute alcohol poisoning, one girl's stomach pumped. Parent responsibility as well as criminal liability are significant issues. Scarsdale parents were emotional when they later viewed the film Dying High: Teens in the ER. We can try to learn from the experiences of others. It's time for us as adults to stop thinking of teenage drinking as a rite of passage, and talk to our children about the consequences of substance abuse: impaired judgment, pregnancy, putting friends' lives at risk, illness and death. Children are fallible; when they make a mistake, we need to provide a supportive and trusted presence. It takes more than a school curriculum on drug and alcohol abuse to get the message across to our children. It begins in the home and in the community. Our message as adults must demonstrate how deeply we care about our children and how committed we are to developing their ability to make sound and healthy choices in their lives. The commitment is life-long and year-round. Our children deserve nothing less.
(Note: writer is a member of the Glen Cove Citizens Committee Against Substance Abuse Inc.)