Substance abuse, students focus of joint news release | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Substance abuse, students focus of joint news release

Officials offer no comment on possible link to shootings

Posted: November 30, 2012 - 10:23pm

LITTLE FALLS — Little Falls Community Schools and Morrison County Friday released a rare joint statement discussing substance use abuse and students.

The news release was issued in the wake of the double homicide of two teens — Nicholas Brady and Haile Kifer — on Thanksgiving Day, where Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

When asked whether the news release was connected to the teen murders, neither Morrison County Administrator Deb Gruber nor Little Falls Superintendent Stephen Jones offered any comment. Gruber and Jones submitted the news release.

The news release states that the school, community and the county care deeply about the health and safety of their young people. Like other communities throughout Minnesota and our nation, substance use among young people and the harm associated with such use are a concern to many community members.

The press release reads:

“We worry about the negative and the far too often devastating outcomes that can result from these high-risk behaviors.

While the majority of young people in our community are avoiding substance use, we know there are some youth who use alcohol and drugs, including the use of medications without a doctor’s prescription. Throughout Morrison County and within its’ schools, there has been a proactive approach to implementing comprehensive substance use prevention efforts over the past several years.

Local law enforcement, the schools, youth, parents and community members have rallied together to work on many efforts to reduce the access and use of all substances by youth in the community. These efforts include enhancements to prescription drug monitoring and prescribing practices, the development of a drug tip line, prescription drug take-back initiatives, educational forums for students about substance use dangers and the implementation of substance use prevention instruction at multiple grade levels. The community is also in the beginning stages of developing a campaign to correct dangerous misperceptions students have about the normalcy of substance use among their peers. In addition, a community coalition, the Stand Up 4 U coalition, made up of parents, youth, school, law enforcement, government, faith community, business and healthcare, is working to understand root causes of youth substance use issues to find and implement strategies that will make long-term impacts.

Addressing substance use issues in any community is a challenge, and we are united in our commitment to the health and safety of youth in our community. A recent survey showed most adults feel the community has a responsibility for the health and well-being of the youth in the community. We will continue to work together to help everyone in our community, including our youth, feel empowered to make healthy choices and avoid all substance use.”