The following letter to the editor was submitted by Barbara Morrow, Director of the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center.
Good news. According to the recently released Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a key indicator is showing a decline. Not huge – but in the right direction. And we need to keep up the momentum.
Here it is: The percentage of students who were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property in the past 12 months has declined from 28% to 22%, at North Country.
It’s hard to know what is impacting this number, but we like to think the community’s response to the Prescription Take Back project is a contributor. (Did you know 70% of the drugs involved in such exchanges come from home medicine cabinets?) The presence of a school resource officer and the community’s and the school’s increased awareness are also hard at work.
The upshot is, let’s keep it up. Clearly, 22% is still too high, and in fact is higher than the rest of the state (18%). Yet when we combine our efforts, we can have an impact on the availability of illegal drugs at the local high schools.
The Prescription Take Back effort has been very successful, and local law enforcement continues to participate in this project which even they admit has “exceeded expectations.” Unused drugs can be deposited confidentially in the secure collection box in the lobby of the Newport Police Department’s office any time, or at the Orleans County Sheriff’s offices during business hours.
There is also a used needle deposit box in each 2nd floor bathroom of the State Office Building. When you take deposit your unused drugs, you them out of the supply line to kids and others. It only takes a second for a quick hand to get ahold of a few pills. Too many of us – 60% – keep unused prescriptions around which makes us and our young people vulnerable.
You can take a look at the VT Dept. of Health’s Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey results on line; they are available to view by school district:
It offers an illuminating insight into the lives of our young people. We think it should be required reading for parents!
Barbara Morrow, Director
Orleans County Restorative Justice Center