Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School System Has Program That Can Help Parents, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School System Has Program That Can Help Parents, Too

Article excerpt

Byline: AMELIA A. HART, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

NASSAU COUNTY -- Nassau County school officials have what they think is a sure-fire program to help parents build strong relationships with their kids.

The program, "Guiding Good Choices," grew out of research that showed parents getting involved in their children's lives in a positive way helps kids resist substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.

It's been recognized by the federal government as a model program, and for Nassau County parents, participation is free.

Now, school officials say, all they need is more parents to take advantage of it.

Marie Rogers, middle school coordinator for drug and violence prevention, said she hoped to have 40 parents from each of the county's four middle schools take the course each year.

But after three years, the program hasn't met that goal. Only 12 parents -- that's the total from all four schools -- took it during the 2002-03 school year. The number increased to 29 in 2003-04. The first training this year starts Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Full Service School in Yulee.

"This is wonderful information," Rogers said. "I've just got to find the right way to get it to the parents."

"Guiding Good Choices" is part of a 3-year-old initiative by the school system to offer consistent programs at all four Nassau County middle schools, in Callahan, Fernandina Beach, Hilliard and Yulee, to prevent drug use and violence.

Middle school children were targeted because that's the age when early experimentation with drugs begins, Rogers said.

"What we're trying to do is give the students better information about what they want to do, and we want to give it to them early," she said.

The initiative is funded by grants from the Governor's Drug Free Community program and the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium.

School officials implemented several programs in 2002 for students, including "Project Alert," which aims to prevent substance abuse; "Second Step," a violence prevention curriculum; "Youth Crime Watch"; and "Stand Up! Speak Out!," a bullying prevention program, and others.

Substance abuse surveys conducted by the Northeast Florida Educational Consortium show those efforts are working, Rogers said. …

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