Our View: Aware and beware

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Craig Editorial Board, January 2009 to April 2009

  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Jennifer L. Grubbs, newspaper representative
  • Collin Smith, newspaper representative
  • Marianna Raftopoulos, community representative
  • Luke Schafer, community representative
  • John Smith, community representative
  • Lois Wymore, community representative

— While the effectiveness a motivational speaker's message can have on a student still forming his or her own beliefs and identity can be debated, there was at least one point that hit home from John Underwood's recent speech at Moffat County High School.

That is, Underwood said, that the 10-year block from 14 to 24 years old can be the "10 most dangerous years" of a young adult's life.

Underwood, a former NCAA All-American distance runner and current trainer and coach for Olympic athletes, spoke to seventh- and eighth-grade students April 7 at Craig Middle School.

His appearance - sponsored by the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, Youth Wellness Initiative, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and Moffat County School District - centered on the dangerous consequences of drug and alcohol use.

The visit also coincided with April's designation as national Alcohol Awareness Month.

Clearly, as statistics indicate, Underwood's words of precaution can't be told enough, especially in Moffat County.

According to a letter to the editor published Saturday from Matt Becket, Moffat County Grand Futures director, there are alarming statistics regarding our community's youths and underage drinking.

Beckett reported 80 percent of Moffat County High School students have drunk more than a few sips, and 29 percent reported heavy alcohol use.

He went on:

Fifty-two percent of eighth-graders (that's 13 years old) reported having drunk more than a few sips of alcohol, and 10 percent reported heavy use.

Clearly, this is a problem.

Looking at news clips from years past, it doesn't take long to learn that it's a problem that has been serious enough to claim the lives of some of our youths, lives that were cut tragically short when they didn't have to be.

It is reassuring, Editorial Board members contend, that there are community agencies like those sponsoring the Underwood visit that recognize the pitfalls a combination of teenagers and drinking can present.

However, to really address the problem, that is to address it at a level deeper than simple guest speaker appearances, newspaper stories, editorials and public campaigns, the Editorial Board believes more has to be done.

And from people besides just those involved in the groups mentioned above.

Board members believe that perhaps the solution to our problem lies with what it does in so many other cases - parental involvement.

The world is moving faster today than it ever has.

Time is as valuable a commodity as one can have, and it seems no one has enough of it.

It's easy to get caught in the rat race and forget what's important. It's easy to look at today's youths, who seem older at a younger age than previous generations, and think they're mature enough to make their own decisions.

More simply, it's easy to be hands off.

But, kids are still kids. They are developing, whether they seem older than their years or not.

At their core, and probably a place they wouldn't ever admit, their primary role models are their parents. They want and seek guidance. They want to look up to someone, and who better than their parents?

Sadly, in many cases, it seems our community has forgotten that young eyes are constantly watching, taking notes, probing for flaws in the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do message.

Without an increased responsibility by parents, and frank, honest discussions at home with our youths, it seems they won't have to look hard to find them.

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