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Experts urge parents to talk to kids as young as five about drug dangers

Substance abuse experts worry that “idle time” for kids this summer may lead to bad decisions and dangerous habits.
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - With school out for summer, kids are ready for a much-needed, well-deserved break. But after more than a year and a half being cooped up, experts worry that kids may be more susceptible to dangerous habits like drugs and alcohol. It comes as state lawmakers lament the flow of extremely harmful drugs, like Fentanyl, coming over the border into the Lone Star State.

Latrease Marshall is one of those concerned experts. She’s a prevention specialist with the Brazos Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

“[Kids] may feel like, ‘Well let me do everything that I didn’t get to do last summer. Let me try everything I didn’t get to try last summer,’ So it’s very important we are aware of where the kids are, who they’re with, who their friends are, where they’re hanging out,” Marshall explained.

She says the big issue plaguing kids in the Brazos Valley is vaping. But Marshall says she’s concerned about the amount of Fentanyl coming into the state and into our community.

“We are noticing an uptick with the fentanyl and it’s more potent other drugs,” Marshall said, “it doesn’t take much for it to affect the body for it to decrease your ability to breathe.”

She urges parents to have a conversation with their kids as young as five. Marshall said social media and instant internet access are exposing kids to things like drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous activities at an extremely early age. She said some parents are apprehensive to have that conversation with young children because they assume their kids don’t know about these issues. But Marshall argued that kids are exposed to drugs, even in positive environments like Red Ribbon Week, almost as soon as they start school. She said there are simple steps parents can take to prepare to have a conversation with their children like watching YouTube videos, talking to other parents about how they handled the conversation in their own family, or reaching out to resources available at their children’s school.

“Create a village. Bring some other people in to help out with these kids,” Marshall explained, “because the more adults, and the more positive role models they have in front of them, the more they’re going to be able to have a positive protective factor to keep them from these dangers.”

She said each child is going to react to the conversation differently and parents have to use their parental instincts to know when it’s time.

“You just kind of got to monitor it some kids are just a little bit more responsible than others,” Marshall said.

She said making sure to have that conversation at the right time could make a huge difference.

“You wouldn’t want to give a child that that’s not really responsible, that’s not really mature enough to handle if someone did ask them that they want to use drugs, a whole lot of free time and free-range to go, and you do not know where they’re going, how long they’re going to be there, who’s going to be there. Those kinds of things,” Marshall explained.

Watch the full video in the player above.

Learn more about the services the Bravoes Valley Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse provides by clicking here.

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