We are always busy here at Tri-County, but Back-to-School season brings a special sense of urgency and purpose to our School-Based team and our Prevention Team. Both of those teams work in the schools and they are already reaching out, making plans and meeting parents and students. It is an exciting and hopeful time of the year.
As an adult with grandchildren in school, I have to remind myself that things have changed since I was the one going to school. I didn’t have social media to amplify any mistakes I made or moments of awkwardness. My friends didn’t carry cameras in their pockets to photograph or videotape each other’s behavior. Kids today are under so much more pressure to be “on”, all the time.
The good news is that as pressure has increased, we have worked to increase resources to help them navigate those difficult times. We have therapists in many schools, and programs to help kids who need a helping hand.
The even better news is that our teams are effective in helping kids avoid negative behaviors. In 1975, 2/3rd of students in their senior year were drinking alcohol and nearly half of them were smoking cigarettes. Now, according to the Missouri Student Survey, more than half of seniors are avoiding alcohol and fewer than 5% of them smoke cigarettes.
Those numbers are hopeful, but there is a lot more work to do, especially in the area of suicide prevention. We started Hope Squad in all Clay County middle and high schools, with the goal of reducing suicide attempts and providing an on-site resource for children struggling with suicidal thoughts.
When you see the school buses on the road and the stores selling binders and pens, I hope you will stop and think for a second about the children in our community. They are facing challenges every day, both academically and emotionally. Our School Services team and Prevention Team will be there with them, working hard to keep them healthy.
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