Common Ground: Teens need to talk out big decisions

Scotlandville Magnet High School junior Ailiyah Goins uses creative methods to encourage her classmates to make wise choices.

She distributes anti-drug messages on lollipop wrappers, posts colorful anti-drug/anti-bullying signs in the school’s hallways and encourages her classmates to think twice about their decisions. She stays involved.

Last year, Goins became an I Care Advisory Board member and Team Spirit leader, and that’s helped her promote the education programs I Care has provided in Baton Rouge schools and communities for the past 30 years.

Drugs and bullying are two problems Goins said she has encountered.

“My role is to promote prevention of drugs, alcohol and abuse,” Goins told me. “If a student is feeling down or having a bad day, then I talk to them or I refer them to an adult.”

Goins was the victim of text bullying several years ago. She received a mean and offensive text. She responded to it, a move which she later learned from a school counselor could have encouraged the bully to further harass her.

Two of the biggest problems confronting youngsters today are substance use and violence, said I Care interim director Gwynn Shamlin.

Prevention Day programs help address many of those issues.

Lisa Prejean, the I Care Specialist for Broadmoor High School, said she understands all too well the need for young people to make sound judgments about their safety.

Sometimes, they’re just not ready.

Until teens reach their early 20s, she said, “parts of the brain that regulate decision making and impulse control are still in the process of forming.”

Teens face physiological challenges, she said, and many of them feel invincible.

The negative impact of drugs and alcohol result from “succumbing to these temptations,” Prejean said.

There are alternatives to violence and drugs, she said.

“My job revolves around teaching the refusal skills teens need to avoid substances, providing the support students may need if they or others close to them are involved in unhealthy activities and being a resource to assist in healthy decision making,” Prejean said.

Goins said she hopes her anti-drug and anti-bullying messages will resonate with her peers.

“We’ve done a lot to reach out to kids,” said Goins. “Prevention helps them understand that there is a consequence to everything you do.”

After she graduates, Goins plans to attend Southern University and study nursing.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.