Thanks to the support of the Beaverton Rotary Foundation, Town Halls were conducted in four comprehensive high schools this school year. They were held at Westview, Southridge, Aloha, and Sunset. Invitations were focused on 9th, 10th, and 11th graders with publicity going to middle school parents (particularly 8th grade) as well. The middle school focus was on parents only while high school families were involved in a two part process that included students. Parents were invited to a panel discussion that always included law enforcement, addictions educators, parents, and Beaverton Together representatives. Youth were involved in a “World Cafe” format to delve into issues at their schools and problem solve together for solutions. The goal of the conducting the Town Halls was to give and receive information in the Beaverton School District community. The emphasis was on alcohol usage which is the most popular “drug of choice” by students while discussion often went into other areas. The information and data that Beaverton Together has gathered indicated areas of concern such as social hosting and community perception.
The students and parents were in agreement that the events were valuable and should be repeated. But there were two sets of data that are of particular interest to us. The first was that 38% of the parents surveyed did not know the legal ramifications of hosting parties with alcohol for teens and 21% had either hosted parties or knew parents who had. The students were asked how their parents felt about teens consuming alcohol. While 64% said that their parents felt that they should not, another 19% stated that as long as they drank at home, it was okay. Another 17% said that parents felt it was part of growing up or they drank when they were teens and it was better than other drugs.
We want to stress that we are not saying that these parents are bad people but many are very frightened for their children. In a world that they have to worry about meth, cocaine, and prescription drug addiction, not to mention driving under the influence and death, alcohol at home might seem like a safe alternative. However, all parents need to be supported, be made aware of the risks and law as well as taught how to communicate effectively with their youth as both go through this hard time of life. We hope that Beaverton Together helped in accomplishing this goal through the Town Halls and we appreciate all those that participated so openly and honestly.