If you need emergency HELP NOW dial 911. If you need INFORMATION call The Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center at 866-242-4111.

Yes, You Can

“When Timmy entered middle school, I was scared to death.”

“What can Jessica say when her teenage friends pressure her? I don’t know what to tell her.”

“I wouldn’t know what to do if I suspected Keisha was getting high. She’s only twelve.”


When we parents talk about our children, we voice some of our greatest fears and concerns. With good reason. The education our children are getting in school is often not as influential or far-reaching as the “street education” they get from their peers and popular culture. They get news and entertainment not only from movies and TV, but from videos, CDs, billboards, magazines, websites and chat rooms–information sources and formats that didn’t even exist a generation ago.

Even the lyrics piped into clothing store dressing rooms can reinforce the impression that sex, drugs, drinking and smoking are glamorous activities, or–even more worrisome–a normal, expected part of growing up.

So what can parents do? Schools, churches and law enforcement can certainly help. But no one can replace the family. Actively preventing risky behavior lets our children know that we care, that we are the kind of parents they want us to be (even though they may not always show it).

As parents, we have a powerful influence on the choices our children make. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that teenagers who reported feeling close to their families were the least likely to engage in any of the risky behaviors studied, which included drinking and smoking marijuana or cigarettes. This finding supports what a majority of parents believe: that we can teach our children to regard drugs and other anti-social behavior as serious concerns–and that we can influence our children’s decisions.