Raising drug awareness in Manawa
By Holly Neumann
Ted Neitzke, with CESA 6, recently visited the Manawa School District to talk with staff and community members’ about drug awareness, parenting skills and risky decision making.
Tim Dehring with the West Bend Police Department also spoke.
“We want to help you build your own personal awareness of what your kids may or may not know,” Neitzke said. “We want to give you some tools and conversations that you need to have with them.”
Some of the main concerns parents in attendance had involved pregnancy, drinking, peer pressure, drugs and even death.
“The number one thing that is going to deter your kids from making bad choices, is your love,” Neitzke said. “Your regular presence in your children’s lives, your regular re-enforcement in conversations and your ability to create a channel of conversation with them is so important.”
He noted that all children make bad choices and adults need respond to those bad choices in a way that help the youth grow into mature adults.
“Somewhere between the grades of 7-12, your child is going to hate you as their parent,” he said. “When that time comes, finding other trusting adults in their lives is critical. They need to have someone that they can talk to.”
According to Dehring, the root cause of some the problems facing youth today is lack impulse control, an inability to delay gratification and consider long term consequences.
“How does this apply to your family,” asked Dehring. “It’s up to us as parents to help them with that. You can make a difference.”
Dehring said there are biological reasons for children making bad choices.
“The brain is not fully developed until the age of 23 to 25 years old. It develops from back to front,” he said. “The back teaches you to breath, teaches you to walk. Your mid-section is about excitement seeking, pleasure seeking and new experience seeking and emotions. It develops from 12 to 18. The front is critical thinking and impulse control.”
He pointed out that biologically the odds are stacked against them.
On a social level, children have less time to be kids.
“There is pressure to succeed, there is early sexualization,” he said. “And adoration of adults and social media amplifies it all.”
There is also a social acceptance to have risky behavior.
“It is important to set up barriers, expectations and standards for your children,” he said. “It is important that we allow our kids to be kids.”
Dehring said kids are going to make mistakes.
“You cannot focus on just that,” he said. “You have to remember that your kids are awesome and they do great things every day. Stay strong, learn to communicate and love them. You will get through this.”
Both Neitzke and Dehring will be back in Manawa from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, in the Jr./Sr. High School commons.
Parents and their children are invited to join them for conversation.
The conversations will provide both the parent and the child insight into what kids know about alcohol and drugs, how parents will react if the child makes a bad choice and strategies for peer pressure.
This event is free.