No Mere Tall Tale: New Strategies To Keep Teens Clean

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By Chris Earl

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa - It is the season that teenagers dream about and some parents feel anxious over.

Summer. Idle time for high school students as parents work and the hours and hours of school don't keep them occupied anymore.

"The summer months are dangerous everywhere," said Jermaine Galloway, an Idaho police officer. "In some areas, they call them the killing season. Those are the few months you lose a lot of teens."

Galloway found himself three states and more than 1,000 miles from Boise as he spent Thursday night talking with police officers and parents at the Mount Vernon Middle School. His 90-minute presentation, "Tall Cop Stays Stop", plays at his 6'9" frame but with a message that resonates.

"Your teens model your behaviors," said Galloway. "If you have very relaxed behaviors about drug activity, they will have relaxed behaviors. If you're the last person they want to hear from on the earth and, believe me, we gets this, they are paying attention and they are seeing what you accept and what you won't."

The presentation comes in the final weeks of the 2012-13 academic year as thousands of high school students will likely find themselves without the daily rigors of class. From a safe prom season to promoting alcohol-free graduation parties, this makes us the ideal summer evening for any sheriff or police officer.

One where their cell phone stays silent.

"Those phone calls at 3 o'clock in the morning, those are the ones you dread," said Mount Vernon Police Chief Mark Winder. "Law enforcement and the coalitions around Linn County have been preaching and getting that out for a long time to reduce underage drinking and, to parents, to secure their alcohol, secure their prescription drugs."

The audience of a few dozen took in Galloway's fast-paced and interactive PowerPoint presentation, from brief video clips to songs to expose the parents to how teenagers communicate when talking about drugs, alcohol or other forms of substance abuse.

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