With prescription medication and heroin abuse among youth on the rise, adults need to consider what they could do to have a greater impact on the lives of kids around them. Studies show that youth who experience caring neighbors are more likely to make healthy choices. Kids who know that the adults in their lives care about them will have greater motivation to say “no” when faced with unwise and unhealthy decisions. There are three simple, yet significant, things you can do to deeply impact the lives of the youth around you: 1. Connect with them, 2. Provide a safe environment for them, and 3. Be a role model for healthy and safe behavior.
Find ways to build relationships with the young people in your neighborhood.
- Take walks and introduce yourself to people in the neighborhood that you don’t know.
- Invite young families in your neighborhood over for a visit, a snack, or the big game. Use this time to get to know them.
- When you see young people out and about in your area, be friendly. Say hello, ask how their day is going, or inquire about their favorite activity. Taking an interest in their lives shows youth that you care about them and that their good choices are important to you.
Provide a Safe Environment:
Limit youth access to dangerous substances by making sure that items in your home are monitored and kept secure.
- If you have alcohol in your home, know how much you have, and ensure that the youth in your neighborhood do not have access to it.
- If you host neighborhood events or other gatherings at your home where alcohol is available, ensure that it is secure and monitored. Do not provide alcohol to minors, and clearly communicate that these items are off-limits to them.
- Be aware of what and how many prescription and over-the-counter medications you have. If young people are frequently in your home, consider locking up your medications.
- Properly dispose of unused or expired medications in a timely manner.
For information on prescription drug abuse, safety and disposal tips click here.
Be a Role Model:
Whether or not it seems believable, young people look up to the adults in their lives. Reinforce healthy behaviors by exhibiting them yourself.
- Show them that alcohol isn’t necessary for having fun. Plan events and celebrations that are alcohol-free.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, drink responsibly by not drinking too much or too often or in high-risk situations, such as while driving, boating, or swimming.
To learn more about this study and the positive impact that neighbors can have on the youth in their communities, visit www.search.institute.org.