Voorhees parents might be used to teaching lessons to their children, but soon parents will have a chance to learn some lessons of their own regarding an all-too-important issue — drug abuse.
On May 2, Voorhees Middle School and the Voorhees Police Department will partner to present Michael DeLeon and his Steered Straight Parent Academy. DeLeon, a former drug addict who spent 12 years in prison, founded Steered Straight in 2000 as a juvenile delinquency intervention and prevention program.
Throughout the evening, presenters will work to give parents an overview of the ongoing drug abuse epidemic in New Jersey and the latest drug trends with which children are dealing.
Since the program was founded, it’s spread not only throughout New Jersey, but across multiple states.
Now for the first time, the program will be coming to Voorhees Middle School, and the district is looking for as many parents to attend as possible.
Parents who attend the program will learn about the signs and symptoms of drug abuse to watch for in their children, as well as tips and advice to help them stop drug and alcohol abuse from affecting children before it starts.
According to Voorhees Township Public Schools coordinator of special projects Susan Donnelly, the district decided to hold the event because the abuse of heroin and other hard drugs throughout the state, and South Jersey in particular, has moved out of the cities and into the suburbs.
“There has been an increase everywhere in the use of opiates and heroin and a turn from prescription medications simply because heroin has become cheaper to get,” Donnelly said.
In addition to the program for parents, Donnelly said “Steered Straight” would also hold an assembly for the district’s seventh- and eighth-grade students during the school day where two former addicts would speak to students about their experiences with drug addiction.
Donnelly said the former addicts would then also speak to parents, but from the perspective of how they kept their addiction hidden from their parents and what signs parents should look for.
Donnelly, who previously sampled the program in the district where her children go to school, said it was worth bringing to the parents and students of Voorhees.
“It’s just a great education opportunity,” Donnelly said.
For those parents interested in attending the Steered Straight Parent Academy, the event will be held on May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Voorhees Middle School Theater. The event is free to attend and does not require registration.
Parents are also encouraged to bring their adolescent and teenaged children as well.
“We can’t be in denial,” Donnelly said. “One bad choice could lead to a whole lot more.”