Malden to Provide Parents with Tools to Address Youth Substance Use
November 19, 2018
Seven cities and towns in the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition (MVPHC), including Malden’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services are banding together to launch a social marketing campaign aimed at preventing underage drinking and substance use among middle school-aged youth. The campaign comes after studies found that although parents and guardians would like their children to not use alcohol and other drugs, many expressed a belief that underage drinking is inevitable.
Over the past two years, the MVPHC, which includes Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Winchester and Wakefield, has collected and evaluated data on youth alcohol and substance use. It has also conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with parents regarding their attitudes and behaviors in regard to youth alcohol and substance use. Their findings include the following:
- Youth substance use in the Mystic Valley region is higher than the state average.
- Parents/guardians generally want to do the right thing but are not sure how to begin.
- Parents/guardians are willing to talk with other parents but aren’t doing that currently.
- Some parents believe that alcohol use is a rite of passage and that allowing their children to drink as adolescents will teach them how to drink “responsibly.’
“Although parents and guardians may believe that youth alcohol use is inevitable, research shows that parental intervention is effective in discouraging alcohol and substance use in children,” said Elizabeth Parsons, MVPHC Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator. “Our goal is to share fact-based information and tools they can use to have meaningful conversations with their children and adults in the community.”
Prevention research shows that social marketing campaigns targeting parents are the best ways to change cultural attitudes and influence behavior. Parents in the MVPHC region reported that they get their news and information from print and online newspapers, radio, Facebook, and in-person at community gathering spots and school and town meetings. Parents also heavily rely on information from school correspondence and medical professionals. The MVPHC campaign will leverage in-person communications, the MVPHC’s quarterly e-newsletter, and social media to reach its intended audience.
“The MVPHC social marketing campaign will be aimed primarily at middle school families as that seems to be the time that parents and guardians are most ready for this message,” noted Lauren Chambers, MVPHC Opioid Abuse Prevention Coordinator. “That said, it’s never too early or too late to address these issues with your kids.”
The campaign will give realistic and actionable steps that parents can take to learn more about substance use prevention, how to talk to their children, and why and how to talk to other parents as well. Parents will be educated on the substance use issues that youth are facing along with tools that parents can use to have honest conversations with their children. In these conversations parents will be urged to communicate expectations, rules and consequences for alcohol and drug use. Lastly, parents will be encouraged to speak openly with other parents about their family position on alcohol and drug use in order to build a culture that values a healthy community for children.
The MVPHC’s work is supported by grants from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services For more information, visit www.mysticvalleypublichealth.org
Welcome to the City of Malden's Substance Abuse Prevention resource. If you have an emergency to report, dial 911 immediately.
This informational resource is provided to help individuals in need of services, guidance and support for themselves, a family member or a friend. Malden is part of the Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition which is comprised of the health departments in Malden, Medford, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham and Wakefield. Please visit Mystic Valley Public Health Coalition for information on treatment, recovery and support programs.
For those looking for immediate assistance, the City of Malden employs an Addiction Recover Resource Specialist, Paul Hammersley, who serves to help residents navigate the treatment system, promote recovery, help to remove barriers, connect people with recovery support services and also encourage hope, optimism and promote healthy living.
Paul is a recovery and empowerment specialist and is also a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach who guides people through the process while supporting recovery based choices, goals, and decisions.
Malden’s Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist