Should I Be Concerned about Drugs in my Child’s School?

April 14th, 2014

Did you know that 8 out of 10 high school students and 4 out of 10 middle school students said that they’ve seen schoolmates possessing, using, or dealing drugs, or high or drunk at school? Kids spend about half of their waking hours in school surrounded by peers and teachers who influence the choices they make every day. Kids are more likely to use substances if their school environment is filled with students who view smoking, drinking, and using other drugs as “cool’ and as a rite of passage.

Teens may use substances to increase their popularity, or because of poor academic performance. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only the “difficult” kids who possess and use substances. Teens oftentimes become victims of drug use because they don’t foresee the consequences of their actions or they have teachers and school administrators around them that treat the issue lightly or don’t think it is a big deal.

How can you help your child navigate the challenges of a drug-infected school?  First and foremost you can make it a priority to communicate with them on a daily basis. Listen closely to what they have to say, and let them know you’re available to talk when they are having an issue or facing a difficult situation. Let your kids know that you’re aware of the drug problems affecting schools, and ask them if they have witnessed a friend or classmate selling or using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. Brainstorm with your child and come up with effective responses they can use if they are offered drugs.

Additional tips that will help you ensure a drug-free school for your child:

  • Talk to other parents about coming together to bring the issue of student drug use to the attention of the school’s leadership.
  • Insist that your child’s school provide substance use prevention curriculum along with substance-free rules and policies. Also, make sure that the school will provide help to the students and families that need it.
  • Aim for a school that encourages parental engagement and helps to coordinate support service for all students and their families.

Concerned your child might be experimenting with nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs because of their school environment? Here are some signs and symptoms you should look out for:

What is the policy in your child’s school regarding drug use? Are you satisfied with it?

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How Can I Make my Home a Safe Haven for my Teen?

March 17th, 2014

A healthy home environment is crucial for children of any age, but it can be even more important for teens who are experiencing high levels of stress and increased pressure to drink, smoke, or use other drugs. Teens look to their parents to set a good example. As their protectors and main support system they count on you to provide them with a safe haven, a place where they can freely talk about their concerns when it comes to substance use.

Here are some tips that can help you create a positive and substance free home life for your teen:

  • Set a good example for your child through your own behavior and attitudes. You are the number one influence on your child.
  • Create a family contract. A contract lets a teen know what is expected of them. It also outlines any consequences they might face if they break the rules.
  • Discuss your family’s history of addiction with your child. Genetic and environmental factors strongly affect the transmission of addiction from one generation to the next. Let your child know if they are at risk, and help them create a lifestyle that will keep them substance free.
  • Protect your child from environmental tobacco smoke. If you are a smoker who cannot quit, make sure you smoke outdoors away from your child. Also, avoid smoking in the car when driving with your child. Effects of secondhand smoke include lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Get help immediately from a doctor or local health center if you’re struggling to quit smoking, drinking, or taking other drugs.
  • Keep your liquor cabinet locked and any prescription drugs in a secure place so your teen is not tempted to experiment or share anything harmful with their friends. This also prevents any teen guests from gaining access to these substances.
  • If your teen is witnessing a sibling dealing with substance use problems, make sure you set aside time to give extra care and support to the sober child.
  • Encourage relatives to also set a good example when they are in your child’s presence.

How do you make your home a substance free place for your teen? Share with us in the comments below!

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Girls and Boys: Why their Reasons for Using Substances are Very Different

February 13th, 2014

Tweens and teens all over the United States frequently feel pressure to use nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. Keeping this in mind, why would a parent’s conversation with their son about substance use be different from the one they have with their daughter? The people and situations that present opportunities to experiment with substances vary for both boys and girls. The consequences are also very different.

How are girls affected?

Due to biological make up, girls become addicted faster and suffer more severely than boys when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Countless young girls suffer from low self-esteem, depression, lack of confidence, and anxiety. Many times they don’t know how to effectively deal with these feelings. Drugs and alcohol help them self-medicate and avoid facing their problems, while also making them more vulnerable.

How are boys affected?

Boys typically enjoy sensation seeking and they like to “show off” and “be cool”. Substance use may cause boys to engage in risky behaviors, like drag racing, or they may become prone to acting violently. This can lead to serious injuries being inflicted onto them or those around them.

How can you steer boys and girls away from substance use?

Sports, outdoor activities, learning how to play an instrument, getting involved in a religious or political cause, or joining a club/team at school are all ways boys can fulfill the need for adventure and excitement and girls can build confidence and feel accepted. These activities make it possible for young people to develop skills that will help them in the future as well.

Parents, it is also important to remember that YOU make a difference! Your children rely on you for encouragement and positive reinforcement. Research shows that children with hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs.

Do you need some help talking to your kids about substance use? Check out some tips by clicking here.

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Celebrate Family Day Every Day in Your Home

January 23rd, 2014

Happy New Year! We’re looking forward to celebrating CASAColumbia® Family Day with you this year! Family Day will be celebrated on September 22, 2014, but we hope you will join us in spreading the word about the importance of parental engagement all year long.


Take a look at some of the exciting news we’d like to share with you:

  • We’re starting a monthly 30 Day Family Fun Challenge in February. Any family is welcome to participate. Each month a new challenge will be announced on our website. To learn more, click here.

CASAColumbia’s new website features many resources that can be helpful to parents. We encourage you to check out the following:

  • Visit our Slideshare page to view our slides on adolescent substance use.

Remember, YOU make the difference in your children’s lives. Every day activities such as having family dinner together, helping your children with their homework or attending their after-school activities have a lasting effect on your kids. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to connect, share and really listen to what’s on their mind. We hope all of our tips and tools help you on your parenting journey in 2014!

How do you plan to stay engaged with your children this year?

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10 Fun Holiday Activities You Can Do With Your Kids

December 10th, 2013

Happy Holidays! This season is a perfect time to connect with your kids and your extended family. We hope these activities will help you stay engaged with your children and help you make lots of fun family memories:

  • Put on a holiday play. Give every family member a role, and write the lines together or act out your favorite holiday book or movie. You can perform it for neighbors or friends!
  • Form your own choir, and sing along to your favorite holiday songs! Whether you’re in the car or relaxing at home, this is a great way to spread holiday cheer!
  • Gather the family for a holiday photo. Everyone can get dressed up or wear funny costumes. Don’t forget to include your pets in the shot.
  • Create handmade gifts or cards, and give them out to neighbors or mail them to loved ones far away.
  • Have a holiday-themed game night. See who can fill in the lyric of your favorite holiday tune or guess each other’s favorite holiday film in a game of charades.
  • Bake holiday treats together. Little ones will be excited to help in the kitchen, and tweens and teens can help them with the baking duties. By getting everyone involved it makes this special treat even more rewarding.
  • Volunteer in your community with your whole family. There’s no better time than the holiday season to demonstrate to kids why it’s so important to help others. Let the kids choose a charity they’d like to give back to this year.
  • If it’s snowing, go sledding or have a snow ball fight. If not, play a game of touch football or tag. All of these activities provide great ways to get active, while having some family fun!
  • Make a collage of all your favorite memories from this year. Hang it on your fridge or in another room where you can all see it.
  • Dream about your plans for 2014 and make a list of new family activities you’d like to try starting January. Make sure everyone contributes at least one idea!

What are some of your family’s favorite holiday activities? Share your thoughts below. For parenting tips and tools you can use all year long check out our Family Day parent toolkit.

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Check Out Some of Our Top Parenting Quotes

November 8th, 2013

Did you know that every Friday we post positive parenting quotes on our Facebook and Twitter pages?

In case you’ve missed them, below is a recap of the most popular quotes from July through October 2013. We hope these quotes help you along your parenting journey.

We also hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for your continued support of Family Day!

  • “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” -Kahlil Gibran
  • “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” –Ann Landers
  • “The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” -Benjamin Spock
  • “Family-like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” –Unknown
  • “The deeds of the children are a testament to the upbringing they received from their parents.” –Christopher Paolini
  • “Show love to your children. You know you love them, but make certain they know it as well.” –Thomas S. Monson
  • “There are two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the others is wings.” –Hodding Carter
  • “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” –Denis Waitley
  • “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the mystery of the world we live in.” –Rachel Carson
  • “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.” –Joyce Maynard

A big thank you to all our friends and followers who have been “liking”, “sharing” and “re-tweeting” our parenting quotes. Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?

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Family Day 2013 Celebrations

October 7th, 2013

A very big thank you to all of our Sponsors, Partners, and Participants who celebrated CASAColumbia® Family DayBe Involved. Stay Involved.TM. Family Day was a success in 2013 because of YOU! We appreciate all of your efforts and commitment to spreading the word about parental engagement.

Family Day celebrations and promotions included:

  • Presenting Sponsor The Coca-Cola Company published an op-ed about Family Day written by Mr. Califano on their online media outlet, Coca-Cola Journey, and promoted Family Day through their internal portals and via their Twitter and LinkedIn pages.
  • Partner The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters promoted Family Day through their social media.
  • 30 State First Spouses served as Honorary Chairs of Family Day this year! First Lady of Indiana Karen Pence had lunch with staff and board members of the organization Birth to Five Program and donated lunches to two other non-profits. First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley hosted a dinner for 15 military families. First Lady of North Carolina Ann McCrory ate lunch with students and parents at Elm City Elementary where she presented a Family Day proclamation. First Lady of Wyoming Carol Mead hosted Family Day activities during the day at a local fourth grade class to promote family time. First Lady of Maine Ann LePage hosted a “Back to School Ice Cream Social” for military children and their families in August.

Scores of local community groups celebrated Family Day including:

  • Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs in Miami, Florida promoted Family Day at The United Teachers of Dade Back to School Picnic with 1,000 guests and at The Children’s Trust Family Exposition that was attended by 20,000 guests.
  • The Lyon County Family Resource and Youth Services Center in Eddyville, KY worked in conjunction with their 4-H Extension Officer to give out recipes and provided an area for students in school grades that range from Preschool/Head Start to 12th grade to eat lunch with their families.
  • Las Cumbres Community Services in Espanola, New Mexico celebrated their “First Annual Northern New Mexico Family Day” with close to 500 attendees. The free community event had games for kids, food, drinks, face painting, jumpy houses, rock climbing, and prizes.
  • The Robert D. Fowler YMCA in Nocross, Georgia decorated tables in their lobby to look like a dinner seating for a family of four. They put Family Day materials out on the tables, and handed them out at their membership desk while also encouraging families to share their meal plans. They discussed Family Day the entire month of September.
  • St. Luke’s Church in Westport, Connecticut hosted a potluck family picnic where they shared family photos. Kids, parents, grandparents, and empty nesters were all invited to attend.

The events and promotions above helped remind parents across the country about the importance of being involved in their kids’ lives. Every day activities like having family dinner together, helping your children with their homework or attending their after school activities have a lasting effect on your kids. Each moment you spend with your child offers an opportunity to connect, share and really listen to what’s on their mind. Research shows that children with hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs. Remember, parental engagement makes a difference!

Every day can be Family Day in your home! Need help keeping the conversations going with your kids? Try our conversation starters or check out our parenting tips.

You can also take our Star Pledge and participate in our daily conversations on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!

How did you celebrate Family Day this year? Send your Family Day photos to

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Celebrate CASAColumbia® Family Day – Be Involved. Stay Involved.

September 16th, 2013

CASAColumbia Family Day Be Involved. Stay Involved.TM is just a week away! Various communities, organizations, and families all across the country are gearing up to celebrate Family Day on Monday, September 23rd. We’re delighted to have so many Sponsors and Partners who are committed to making this day so special. Take a look at some of the exciting news surrounding Family Day this year:


  • The Coca-Cola Company is back as Family Day’s Presenting Sponsor.
  • The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters are back as a Family Day Partner. The National Center for Fathering, Parents Without Partners, and The National Military Family Association have also joined us as Family Day Partners.
  • 30 State First Spouses are serving as Honorary Chairs of Family Day. First Lady of Wyoming Carol Mead will host Family Day activities during the school day at a local fourth grade class to promote family time, and every fourth grader in the state will receive a special cookbook. First Lady of Maryland Katie O’Malley will be hosting a dinner for 15 military members and their families at the Government House on September 23rd. Click here for the full list of Honorary Chairs.
  • Mom Blogger and Partner Amy Roskelley of Super Healthy Kids has written a new post about Family Day, which you can read here.
  • We’d like to introduce two additional Mom Bloggers and Partners. To read what Shawn Ledington Fink at Awesomely Awake has to say about the benefits of connecting with your family, click here. To see the fun family activity ideas that Danielle Reeves has shared at Busy Mom’s Helper, click here.
  • The New York Mets are currently offering a special 20% Family Day discount to their game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, September 29th at 1:10 pm. You can join the celebration by clicking here to order tickets.
  • 8 additional Major League Baseball teams are helping to celebrate Family Day including the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels, Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Washington Nationals.
  • The Governors’ residences in Nevada and New Jersey will be lit in red and blue on September 23rd in honor of Family Day
  • Special note: Our Partner The Medicine Abuse Project has launched a new website that has a suite of free materials and resources for parents and grandparents, health care providers, educators, and communities and law enforcement that can help prevent and end the epidemic of teen medicine abuse. To learn more, visit:

All of these celebrations and partnerships help spread the Family Day message to parents everywhere. At CASAColumbia, we know that children with hands-on parents are far less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs. Remember, parental engagement makes a difference!

How are you celebrating this year? Check out our Family Day Activity Kit and our Conversation Starters. All of these games, recipes, and tools can help you connect with your kids!

Share your Family Day plans with us on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail us at

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What Drugs are Likeliest to Tempt Your Teen?

August 12th, 2013

Have you ever heard the saying “knowing is half the battle”? The best way to protect your teen when it comes to substance use is to know what drugs they are being offered. You should also know what potentially harmful substances are being marketed to them covertly through the media. As a parent, you have the power to teach your teen how to navigate through tough situations if you can anticipate what they might be faced with.

What do you need to know? Widely available and inexpensive substances like cigarettes, alcohol (beer and distilled spirits), marijuana, and prescription drugs are all appealing to young people. Big corporations all make huge profits from their teen fans. This is despite the fact that those under 18 can’t purchase their products, and could be seriously harmed by using them.

Let’s take a look at each of the substances preferred by teens and the risks associated with them.

Smoking is a dangerous and addictive habit that teens gravitate towards because they want to look cool or fit in. Marijuana and tobacco are their most popular choices. Marijuana, first and foremost, is illegal. It affects a teen’s ability to learn, their memory, and their coordination. Cigarettes could possibly be even more harmful. Heart disease, cancer, and respiratory ailments all stem from smoking tobacco. Adolescents are particularly prone to becoming addicted or experiencing chronic illness/premature death. One out of three adolescents who try smoking will end up addicted to nicotine as adults. Tobacco companies use aggressive marketing tactics to ensure they will have loyal customers for years to come.

Alcohol, by far the most popular substance among teens, can seriously damage a young person’s developing brain. It even has the ability to permanently change the way a teen’s brain works. Memory, attention span, and spatial skills are all negatively affected when teens drink heavily. Alcohol is often readily available in an adolescent’s home, and they witness parents and adults guests drinking at celebrations and parties. It is important that adults practice drinking in moderation, which helps teens understand that excessive drinking is detrimental to their health and completely unacceptable at all times.

Finally, prescription drugs are another substance that is very accessible in most homes. Teens perceive these drugs as being safe because they’re prescribed by trusted doctors to family members and friends. They use pills to get high without realizing that they can become addicted and experience mental, physical, and emotional health problems or even death. Many times prescription drug use also leads to heavier drug use. Adolescents may turn to heroin because they can get a stronger and cheaper high.

So what can you do to keep your teen safe? For starters, let them know about the dangers associated with drug use and make it clear that risky behavior is prohibited in your home. When your teen returns from a night out, always make it priority to talk with them before they go to bed. Overdose, addiction, and drinking and driving accidents are topics your child needs to know about. They should understand that these are very real events that usually start with moderate drug or alcohol use that is thought to be harmless. Monitor your teen’s internet use and know who their friends are. You have the power to prevent your teen from giving into the temptation to use dangerous substances.

Do you need some help talking with your kids about drugs and alcohol? Click here for our parenting tips.



  1. Lorene writes:

    Keep this going please, great job!

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Stay Involved with your Kids

July 11th, 2013

We’re delighted to have our Family Day Mom Blogger Amy Roskelley sharing her experiences and ideas for how to be a more involved parent. Check out some of the fun ways she creates family time below!

Staying connected with my kids gets harder with each year they get older. Their friends, their sports, their hobbies, and even their favorite TV shows are suddenly the most important things in their lives! Gone are the days where they were anxious to snuggle with me on the couch. While I could be sad about my kids growing up, I could also rejoice in this new phase of our lives and enjoy the things we like to do together. If anything, those activities are actually getting more fun for all of us. If I want to stay involved in their lives, I definitely have to make time for those things that will foster communication, as well as have a fun side.

Our family has a few activities that fit these criteria! It has to be fun, so the teenagers want to be there, and it has to encourage communication, so I want to be there! We do have to get most things on the calendar for any activity to happen of course, or suddenly the business creeps in, and we find ourselves without a single day left to enjoy together. This is our list of things that work for us:

  1. Take a Hike My family loves hiking. This may be more of a family tradition than a favorite hobby for my kids, but we always try to go somewhere new or see something fun. Every spring we start, and we get at least 1 good hike in each month until it starts snowing again. Hiking gives us plenty of time to connect!
  2. Go Camping Without any digital entertainment to distract us, camping is the perfect activity to have the captive attention of your kids. Plus, sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows with them creates memories they will never forget.
  3. Play Games Monday nights are game night at our house. Our favorite games- Ticket To Ride, Rummikub, and Phase 10. Having everyone sit around the table in friendly competition turns my kids into chatty children!
  4. Tell a Story I think because we’ve done it for so long, our kids don’t mind us reading books to them. It started back when my oldest was in kindergarten, and my husband read Harry Potter to him. It has actually continued to today. My kids will gather around and listen to my husband read a book to them!
  5. Bake some Tasty Treats Usually its Sunday afternoon cookies or cinnamon rolls, but who cares what it is! You never get too old to bake together. Hanging out in the kitchen gives us time to catch up from the week, and have some good food at the same time.
  6. Take Time out for Family Dinners Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without talking about dinner time! Of all the activities we do together, we are the most consistent with family dinner. We pray together, we talk, we eat, and we sit, as long as it takes. Then, we all clean up together. Dinner time will always be important to us, as we can connect with our kids each day, instead of waiting for big activities to do together.

Identify some of your favorite family activities that your kids will like, but will also allow you some good talking time. Start them young, and it will be easier to keep them up throughout their life!

Amy blogs at about healthy eating and living for kids! Check out their recipes, meal plans, and more!

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