This is the 5th of March and “Take 5 Iowa Day,” as parents are encouraged to take five minutes to talk with their kids about the importance of living drug free. Peter Komendowski, president of the Partnership at DrugFreeIowa.org, says studies repeatedly show teens who learn about the risks through ongoing dialog with parents are up to 50% less likely to ever use drugs.
Komendowski says, “The whole idea behind Take 5 is really a reminder that parents and children need to connect and parents need to take a very strong, positive initiative to talk to their children.” In recent months, Iowa has seen increased reports of teenagers using new synthetic drugs and many of them are ending up in hospitals.
He says it just reinforces the need for parents to set aside time to talk with their young sons and daughters about making healthy choices. “It’s so hard to get children to talk about what their peers are saying and what’s going on at school,” Komendowski says. “Children are afraid to disclose to parents how many threats they encounter in the course of a day. We see enough children end up in emergency rooms to know that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
A study found 90% of parents say they talk to their kids about drugs, but only 20% of kids say they’d had such a talk with their parents.
“We know it’s difficult and we know it’s challenging,” Komendowski says.
“We’re asking parents to dig a little deeper and try talking a little bit longer. Children really do want to engage. It’s just a strange territory for them to talk about the world of their peers with parents.” He says research shows when parents ask questions, set boundaries and monitor friends, it can reduce the odds of teenagers ever using drugs.