The war on drugs may not be the hopeless cause it seems, if Utah teen and other involvement is any indication.
Jan Bullock, chairwoman of the Utah Federation for Drug-Free Youth Advisory Board, said that 40,000 people, including thousands of youths in 104 Utah high schools, have been involved this past year in Project Teamwork.The effort is an anti-drug program supported by Gov. Norm Bangerter and first lady Colleen Bangerter.
Bullock, who was chairwoman of the federation's fourth annual conference last week in the Salt Palace, discussed federation accomplishments and goals during a board meeting this week in the Governor's Mansion.
She said the main objective of Project Teamwork has been encouraging youths to help other young people afflicted with drugs or contemplating their use. She is heartened by the genuine expressions of those who care about their friends in trouble.
During the federation conference Saturday, the governor said drug use is dangerous and has to be stopped. He commended thousands of young people for their desire to help others, and he and Bullock presented awards to several of the high schools involved in the project.
High Schools honored were Bonneville, Clearfield, Payson, Granger, Timpview and Bingham.
One federation objective this year will be to sponsor performances of the dramatic musical production. "It's My Life," which portrays efforts of a mother and her daughter to intervene in the life of a drug-abusing youth. The federation will sponsor a workshop this summer for high school drama and choral teachers and drug prevention specialists in how to present the production.
Richard Maxfield, who conducted a research study for the Youth Enhancement Association, a private non-profit corporation, reported on a study of literature about prevention.
Maxfield said a preliminary report shows that early intervention techniques can be used effectively in working with youths. It isn't necessary to wait until young people begin showing negative behavior before steps can be taken to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse, delinquency, crime and sexual promiscuity, he said.
Masfield said the ingredients that promote success in a child are simply variations of those that cause failure. If parents are too strict or too lenient in raising their children, they can create rather than solve problems. Many children will abide by standards if they have some involvement in setting them and feel some ownership of rules, he said.
Maxfield said if teachers, parents and others deal with youths' social and academic difficulties when they occur, continuing to work with the youths until solutions are found that "we can prevent the vast majority of misbehavior."
F. Leon PoVey, director, Utah Division of Substance Abuse, told the advisory board that the state should continue prevention and education and treatment programs. Public awareness and prevention campaigns and coordination of efforts between such groups as the PTA and agencies and programs that provide alcohol and drug services is vital, PoVey said.
"We are putting a lot more funding into prevention programs. But it is also important that we keep strong treatment programs going," PoVey said.
PoVey said thousands of youths do not receive any treatment for moderate to severe drug problems.