A recent focus group study on the high risk behaviors of adolescents in Collier County offers some valuable insight for members of our community to consider. Drug Free Collier and local professionals who work closely with teens were brought together by Hodges University to explore factors influencing today’s youth.
Dr. Tom Hofmann helped facilitate this study along with Dr. David Small and the students enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Hodges University. The results were presented along with some valuable recommendations at Drug Free Collier’s most recent coalition meeting.
With support from the Hispanic Institute at Hodges University, students sorted through the various experiences of law enforcement officers, teachers, counselors and other professionals working with at-risk youth and highlighted some common themes. Participants overwhelmingly noted that today’s youth are exposed to adult content and situations that are clearly above their developmental period. The study found this was especially true in the social media and web-based interactions of youth, said Dr. Hofmann.
Data also pointed out that high risk behaviors are often seen in clusters. At-risk youth don’t just focus on one delinquent behavior. It’s not just skipping school, doing drugs, or being promiscuous. Solutions, therefore, should focus on the cluster, rather than one particular behavior, Hofmann added.
While it’s easy to point fingers and look for blame, doing so will only focus our attention away from solutions and will lead to burn out rather than creativity, he added. We are better off directing our attention to the healthy behaviors we want to see in our children.
The information was presented to members of Drug Free Collier’s Coalition Council as they prepare a Comprehensive Community Action Plan for protecting our children from substance abuse.
Established in 2005, Drug Free Collier works with multiple partners to prevent adolescent substance abuse and identifies local solutions. “As long as there are youth at risk of substance abuse, our children, grandchildren and our community are at risk,” said Dr. Frank Nappo, President of the Board of Directors of Drug Free Collier.
Drug Free Collier is the driving force working to connect multiple stakeholders and empower each sector to get involved, said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier.“Protecting children from substance abuse matters to us,” Black said. “And we know it matters to our community partners, too.”
When asked why they are involved, here’s what some local partners had to say:
“In this difficult fight to reduce drug abuse in our youth in Collier County, we find that Drug Free Collier is the only pro-active solution targeted to prevent and reduce drug abuse among our youth.” ~ Vin DePasquale, Dock 5 Inc.
“I believe it is very important to provide everyone but most importantly children with a positive environment to help them learn and assist them in making good decisions. Drug Free Collier makes a positive impact on our community through continued education, awareness initiatives but most importantly the CORE programs in our local schools. As a parent of two children (one in high school), I understand the importance of making good life decisions and having positive role models. Drug Free Collier provides the structure for such an environment and has had a significant influence on my family.” ~Larry Dulski, Director of Finance & Accounting, Marco Island Marriott Resort Golf Club & Spa
To learn more about Drug Free Collier or to get involved, you are invited to participate in our monthly coalition meetings. The next meeting is on Friday, April 25th at 8:30 a.m. For details, call 239.377.0535239.377.0535 or visit www.DrugFreeCollier.org