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home : news : news
October 17, 2018

3/7/2018 1:29:00 PM
Session offers insight on keeping kids safe

By Gretta Becay

Byron schools are not immune to alcohol and marijuana use among students, a panel of presenters told parents recently at an event hosted by Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson.

Torgerson hosted "Community Drug Awareness and Trends" at the Byron Middle School February 28.

He brought a team of presenters including Deputy Jon Strum, Captain Vince Scheckel, Deputy Michelle Ness, Detective Chad Winters, Safe Harbor Regional Navigator Laura Sutherland and Barb Paradise, a Rochester resident who spoke about the impact drugs have had on her family. In the last few years, she has lost a son, a stepson and a nephew to opioid use.

More than a hundred spectators attended the event where they learned that, "It doesn't happen here" is not true.

According to surveys of Byron high school and middle school students, those attending were told, the use of alcohol and marijuana has shot up since 2014.

What can you do, as a parent, relative, or community member, was the question.

"Never stop asking questions," said Torgerson. He used the example of the routine call that comes into the office during which a parent says, "my son's out of control."

"When they're 15 is not the time to start cracking down," he said. It's easier when they're younger. Talk about drugs, alcohol, difficult friends, and yes, even sex, he explained.

"Let them know your expectations," he said.

"Know your kids' friends' parents," cautioned one speaker.

Winters suggested having your child send a selfie with his friend's parents, if you wonder, "is he really where he says he is?"

What drugs are most noticed by the Sheriff's office? Marijuana has seen a big rise in the number of users. And, the use of these drugs has also escalated: prescription pills, electronic cigarettes and tobacco, meth, LSD, over the counter medicines such as cough syrup, and alcohol, those attending were told.

Teenagers are very adept at hiding drugs and paraphernalia but remember, said Torgerson, if you're concerned about your kids' privacy, "it's your house. Everything in that house is yours. You can search it. You can search the backpack. It's your responsibility."

The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office website has the materials available online for more information, Torgerson said.

How do you keep them safe online?

In this electronic age, Winters said that what parents worry most about is, "what their son will download and what their daughter will upload."

For example, he said, a cyber stalker tells your young daughter she's beautiful, responds to her emojis when she's upset about something, then asks her for a picture. As the relationship escalates, the stalker ends up with pictures of the girl she wouldn't want shared so she'll do anything to keep that from happening. Just like that, a young girl is being exploited.

"She's meeting some person in a van at midnight to stay out of trouble - to keep those pictures private," he said.

One solution is to "look at your kids' electronic devices," he cautioned.

"Establish rules for when they are allowed to use their cellphones, what websites they can visit and what apps they can download," the literature provided explained.

"Establish expectations for online behavior... Let them know exactly what you think is unacceptable."

"Talk to your child about what to do when they find inappropriate content."

Torgerson will host the same event at the Dover-Eyota schools March 26.

At 6:30 p.m. on April 10 at the Byron Middle School there will be a presentation by Laura Sutherland, Safe Harbor regional navigator about ways to keep children safe from exploitation and trafficking.

Claremont Service

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