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Parents must start dialogue

Parents who think they don’t need to talk to their children about the dangers of drug use could be making a grave and unnecessary gamble.

That’s why Gov. John Kasich this week kicked off a statewide initiative that encourages parents to talk to their middle and high school-aged students about the importance of being drug-free.

And it’s no surprise that Ohio’s governor would want to implement such an initiative. Attorney General Mike DeWine says more than 600 heroin overdose deaths occurred in the state in 2012, a figure that was more than double from the number in 2010.

Last year, that number rose to 800.

Called Start Talking, the initiative is inspired by research that shows children are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.

The initiative brings together four programs designed to interact with parents, other adults and youth in different ways:

• Know! is a drug prevention and awareness partnership developed by The Drug-Free Action Alliance that targets parents and caregivers of middle school students and empowers them to raise their children substance-free;

• Parents360 Rx is a component of a national community education program developed by the Partnership at Drugfree.org that has demonstrated significantly increased knowledge of substance abuse among adults, thereby enhancing confidence in their ability to speak with teens about the subject;

• 5 Minutes for Life is led by the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard where members talk to student athletes and encourage them to become ambassadors who lead peer-to-peer conversations that promote healthy lifestyles;

• Building Youth Resiliency is an initiative the Office of Ohio First Lady Karen W. Kasich, in partnership with other state agencies that is seeking applications to assist local communities in utilizing evidence-based programs to help youth resist substance use.

Drugs have already ruined so many people’s lives in Lawrence County. It’s time to step up education for the younger generations so they can make positive decisions when faced with difficult situations.