Students deliver Truth or Dare message about drugs

MATForce, the Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition, is partnering with local middle schools by providing up-to-date information for families on the risks and effects of substance abuse.

Beginning Tuesday, area eighth-grade students are bringing home a small newspaper called "Truth or Dare." The newspaper gives parents information they need on drugs abused by youth, such as inhalants, prescription medication, "club" drugs, cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol.

The Arizona Youth Survey of 2008 offers surprising information on lifetime drug use amongst eighth graders. Statewide studies show seventeen percent of eighth graders have abused prescription medications. In Yavapai County, forty-nine percent of eighth graders have used alcohol and fourteen percent report marijuana use.

"In light of these statistics, I urge parents to be on the lookout for this pamphlet in your child's backpack and to set it aside to read cover to cover," said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and MATForce Co-chair.

The "Truth or Dare" newspaper talks about the dilemmas and fears of parents, as well as offering useful tips on what to talk about with kids.

Prescott Unified School District Superintendent and MATForce volunteer Kevin Kapp said, "We, as educators, do our part in drug education. However, it has been proven that parents are the most important influence on a child's choices. That is why schools are partnering with MATForce to get parents and caregivers the information they need to talk with children."

Barbara U'Ren, Superintendent of the Cotton-Oak Creek Elementary School District agrees. U'Ren said, "Research shows that a child is 50 percent less likely to use drugs if a parent or role model discusses the dangers of drugs with them. We like the "Truth or Dare" newspaper because it is easy to read and includes photographs and simple explanations of drugs, their affects and what to watch for in your home."

The "Truth or Dare" cover page was created by Jillian Eisenga, a 10th grade student from American Heritage School in Cottonwood. Her message reminds all to "Say Nope to Dope."

Public schools along with many area charter schools will be distributing the newspapers during the coming weeks. Additional copies of the "Truth or Dare" newspaper are available by calling MATForce at 708-0100.

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