So what can we do now?
There are things we can do right now, as a community, to help our young people live their best lives…
Strengthening the protective factors.
The Planet Youth framework for action revolves around four key domains of intervention: Family, Leisure Time, Peer Group and School. The research highlights protective factors in each of these areas that can be strengthened in order to reduce the risk of substance use. The key protective factors include parents spending more leisure time with children, knowing the parents of your children’s friends, participation in organised sport and activities, community connections, active community support of young people, adult disapproval of adolescent substance use, enforcing curfews and refusing to supply substances.
Share what we know.
The absence of the critical protective factors has a direct and significant correlation with substance use. And the protective factors identified are things that can be directly influenced by parents and the community. Just knowing this can be a very powerful. Encourage others to learn about Planet Youth.
Connect with parents.
Knowing the parents of your child’s friends and having a conversation about how you can work together to strengthen the protective factors around your children can make all the difference. When parents support other parents, everyone can feel more confident and be more effective in reducing risks for young people.
Get involved in activities with your children. Get involved in their school. Get involved with other parents. Get involved with Planet Youth. All of this will make a difference. You can join the conversation on the Planet Youth Blue Mountains Facebook page, or reach out to your school to ask what they are doing to connect parents and children.
Have the talk.
Let your child know that you want to support them in their life choices but that you don’t approve of them drinking alcohol or using drugs. Let them know that even a little bit is harmful for young people (and remind them that it’s against the law). Help them get involved in more organised activities and support them as much as you can at school.
What can we do together?
The power of the Planet Youth model is within the community. What can we do together as a community to create an environment in which our young people can thrive? Some things that have been implemented by other Planet Youth communities include parent social media and chat groups, school and community meetings, increased no/low cost sport and other organised activities, parent-child activities at schools, parent patrols of late night hang outs, neighbourhood gatherings and community events for parents and young people, opening local youth clubs, and sharing effective communication tools for parents and young people.
What can we do, here and now, to help our young people live their best lives?
Planet Youth Blue Mountains is an Alcohol and Drug Foundation funded initiative that is being implemented by the Local Drug Action Team in partnership with Blue Mountains City Council and Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and supported by local schools, community members and a number of community services including Platform Youth Services, Ted Noffs Foundation, Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, Stronger Families Alliance, Belong Blue Mountains, Springwood Neighbourhood Centre, Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre, Blue Mountains Women’s Health & Resource Centre, Catholic Care, Uniting, TAFE Blue Mountains and the NSW Department of Education.