Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parenting risk factors decrease as community risk factors increase

Last week, a reporter from the LA Times interviewed three members of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) here at Seattle Children’s Hospital, including me.   The main article focuses on marijuana legalization and how parents in Washington are talking to their kids about it.  Two other articles focus on what parents and teenagers should know. 

The main article points out that there has been an increase in youth marijuana use among NE Seattle teenagers.  Though the article mostly focuses on parenting, the risk factors associated with parenting and youth drug use have gotten better in NE Seattle since 2006.  Most of the Prevention WINS coalition’s work focuses on increasing parenting skills proven to prevent teen drug use.

Source: WA Healthy Youth Survey
Despite parenting risk factors decreasing in NE Seattle, marijuana use rates have steadily increased.  Why?  The Healthy Youth Survey tells us that community-related risk factors have increased during the same time period. 

Source: WA Healthy Youth Survey
While parent education remains a priority for Prevention WINS, and evidence-based prevention programs will continue to be offered to middle school students, the need to address community risk factors is evident.  When the larger community discusses youth marijuana use prevention, they often focus on parenting.  However, as our local data seem to indicate, prevention needs to include the wider community. 

Access to marijuana needs to be addressed.  Community norms need to be addressed.  Enforcement of underage laws needs to be addressed.  The Prevention WINS coalition cannot address the multiple risk factors associated with youth drug use alone.  Individuals and organizations throughout Seattle need to step up and address the factors they influence.  

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