By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
Times have changed and so has the alcohol and drug culture of teens. But what is it that’s so different? What are parents surprised to learn?
“Most of it,” said Officer Jermaine Galloway, who spoke to parents of local teens and other members of the community Tuesday. “Everything is so different today than it was in the culture they grew up in; even the younger parents are surprised when they see how much and how fast things have changed.
Tuesday’s “Parent Night” event, hosted by Kuna Alcohol Drug Free Youth (KADFY) at Kuna Middle School, was the first of its kind for the community.
“We’ve hosted some town hall-type meetings,” said KADFY President Tina Turley, noting the presentation was made possible by made possible by funding from the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and Benchmark. “This will give people the opportunity to tour the mock teen bedroom and see some of the things associated with the teen drug and alcohol culture. It’s the coalition’s goal to help keep Kuna’s youth safe and drug free.”
Galloway, a Boise Police Officer who’s been in Idaho law enforcement since 1997 and has more than 10 years’ experience in alcohol enforcement, is involved closely with KADFY.
Today, he said, kids are getting involved with drugs and alcohol at a younger age, and much of what they’re using is stronger and more intoxicating than a generation, or even a few years ago.
“The dope they’re smoking is more potent, the beer they’re drinking is more potent,” Galloway said. “Parents need to realize how dangerous this is. No, it doesn’t always end in death and destruction, but the earlier they start drinking or using drugs, the more likely it is to become an issue. We see a lot of adults who started young and are still fighting those demons in their 30s and 40s and beyond.”
Parents, he said, can help prevent potential problems just by being aware and noticing things out of the norm, and should be on the lookout for certain logos, brands and “masking agents” like Febreeze or scented candles.
“Pay attention,” he said. “Some parents think a kid’s room is the kid’s domain and they never go in. I tell them ‘You need to go in there. You need to know what’s in that bedroom. You are the parent.’”
Galloway’s wife, KADFY Director Jessica Galloway, was also on hand Tuesday. In the mock teen bedroom she pointed out various objects, logos and other high-risk identifiers for youth at risk of drug and alcohol use.
“It’s important that people know that any one thing doesn’t mean anyone thing,” she said. “In other words, just because a kid has a shirt with a certain logo doesn’t mean he or she is
using drugs. We don’t label or judge. That’s the last thing we want to do. We just need to be aware.”
She called the mock bedroom an out of the box way of teaching parents about the drug and alcohol culture.
In it, with many other examples, hung a t-shirt with a picture of a clock set at 4:20.
“Kids get kicked out of school if they wear a shirt with a marijuana leaf on it,” she said. So they wear this instead.”
To users, 420 is a symbol of marijuana and its culture. To parents who are aware, it’s a red flag.
Kuna Alcohol / Drug Free Youth is a part of the Idaho Youth Alcohol & Drug Prevention & Education Program, Inc.
For more information, visit the website at www.kadfy.org/