|Program At A Glance|
Before they graduate from high school, 76% of Arlington teens will have tried alcohol at one time or another. Almost half will have used marijuana. These alarming facts come from the 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.
Use of prohibited substances is a problem because teens who drink or use drugs are much more likely to have slipping or failing grades, unplanned and unprotected sex, accidents resulting in serious injury, and other high risk behaviors. The earlier teens start, the more likely they will experience addiction problems later in life. And a teen’s developing brain is highly vulnerable to the disruptive effects of alcohol and drugs -- which can result in lifelong problems with important cognitive skills like attention, learning and memory.
Traditional punishment sends the behavior underground. Suspensions and court involvement leave well-meaning friends, coaches, teachers and parents without a positive alternative for helping students they worry about. The long-term consequences of many traditional forms of punishment keep some from finding interventions that can help.
|Second Chance will divert youth who complete the program from school suspension and the juvenile-justice system and, ultimately, change behaviors of|
Arlington youth engaged in substance use.
Read the CASA report that declares teen smoking, drinking, misusing prescription drugs and using illegal drugs a public health problem of epidemic proportion and the primary origin of the complex brain disease of addiction.
Second Chance is a free, three-day early intervention program. Educational components help students review their behavior, their relationships, and their knowledge to look for the links that led them to use prohibited substances. A “booster session” is held 60 days after the initial session.
Teens have an opportunity to look at healthier choices that give them a Second Chance to avoid school suspensions or involvement in the juvenile-justice system. The program includes a mandatory component for parents that helps improve communication and teaches what to watch for to help their kids avoid risky choices.
Second Chance is the result of widespread community support spearheaded by Partnerships for a Healthier Arlington. Program developers conducted focus groups, met with other jurisdictions, and engaged students, counselors, teachers and school officials, the judicial system, public health and public safety officials, the Commonwealth’s Attorney and, most importantly, parents.
Many communities have tried to tackle this problem. The unique characteristics of this program make it the only one of its kind in the nation. The pilot phase of the program will include data collection and an evaluation that could result in Second Chance becoming a model for other communities seeking to address prohibited substance use among youth.
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