‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ Program Offers Clear View of Drug Awareness
Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught and New Martinsville School Assistant Principal Shawn Coen have been visiting school and churches in both Tyler and Wetzel Counties, educating parents on drug abuse prevention through an awareness program titled “Hidden In Plain Sight.”
Hidden in Plain Sight is an interactive awareness program for parents and other adults. The exhibit is designed to look like a teenager’s bedroom and contains items that may be indicative of risky behavior. Topics included substance abuse, violence, juvenile crime, risky challenges, and technology that teens are too often confronted with.
Program attendees were told how today’s youth are faced with more challenges than ever before with the increase of technology and smart phones, which make accessing information limitless. Out of this access comes both good and bad. It is up to the parents to make sure that they are educated on the topics that face their children. With this knowledge, parents can play a larger role in the upbringing of their children, and help them to make the right decision when the time comes.
Furthermore, as law enforcement continues to battle drug abuse on the streets, educators are faced with the remnants that come to school. These remnants can include abused or neglected children to finding needles at the playground, which is a common occurrence. Education is the key to wise decisions.
Chief Haught informed attendees that theft is the most often committed crime by youth; parents should be aware if items or money comes up missing. When a teenager gets involved in drugs, they will often resort to stealing in order to pay for their drug habit. Teens will shoplift for the thrill of the action or even to prove themselves in a dare. It was mentioned that kids at a young age have no impulse control, so they push the limits of what they can get away with.
Kids will also take part in risky games – such as the salt and ice challenge, or the Tide Pod challenge. These “games” can cause permanent physical damage. Younger children will try to imitate their older siblings. If an older sibling is observed snorting cocaine, the younger sibling may try to snort another powdery substance, or even Smarties candies.
Haught explained how kids have an easy access to inhalants; thus, they will resort to using whatever they have access to, in order to get high. Teens are exposed to “challenges” via YouTube, so they will try to “one up” a peer in some fashion.
Internet awareness was another topic brought up to inform parents of current challenges that teens face. There are videos and information of all varieties teens can access through YouTube. Teens are also reaching out to ISIS through social media and learning how to make bombs and other explosive devices.
The Internet also brings the potential of sexual predators and human trafficking. It was explained that sex offenders will stalk chat rooms, looking for prey. Human traffickers will make deals on the dark web where they feel they can not be traced. Both present extreme dangers to the community. In fact, attendees were told sexual predators and human trafficking have both been discovered locally, proving that situations like this can happen close to home.
Cell phones allow kids to send sexual text messages back and forth, otherwise known as sexting. According to the Hidden in Plain Sight program, kids as young as fifth grade have been caught sexting with their peers. There are even applications created to allow kids to sext back and forth. This application is then disguised as a calculator, or some other application that is less suspicious. Hidden in Plain Sight attendees were told how kids even implement a “game” using bracelets that they wear. Different colored bracelets can mean different forms of sexual activity that the bracelet wearer has participated in.
Teens are also finding new ways of disguising and using alcohol and drugs, according to Hidden in Plain Sight. Teens have found different ways to ingest alcohol, or hide it, such as in a tanning lotion bottle. According to Haught, binge drinking has become a problem. Teens want to drink alcohol, but their time frame is limited. Therefore, they are creating ways to consume as much alcohol, as quickly as possible.
The drug epidemic has become a major local problem with much of it stemming from over-the-counter medications. Teens are taking their parents or grandparents’ medicines to get a high. This has also lead to the increase of overdoses throughout the nation and especially in West Virginia. People are overdosing on Methamphetamine and Heroin to the point it has become a game. The Lazarus Game is described as people competing to see who has died and been brought back to life the most times through Narcan. Haught noted that each police officer carries one dosage of Narcan; if that officer runs out, the next drug victim will not be so lucky as to be brought back to life.
Chief Haught and Principal Coen want parents and members of the community to be aware of some of the bizarre and extreme activities that are happening, even in the local area. They feel that if the public is aware, more incidents will get reported – which could potentially save a life.
Some phone numbers to keep close include: Wetzel County Child Protective Services, 455-0920; Wetzel County Prosecutor’s Office, 455-8220; Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department, 455-2430; Domestic Violence Program, 428-2333; Sexual Assault Program, 800-656-4673; Child Advocacy Center, 652-2122; and New Martinsville Police, 455-9100; Tyler County Child Protective Services, 758-2127; Prosector’s Office, 758-2860; Sheriff’s Department, 758-4229; Domestic Violence Program, 428-2333; Sexual Assault Program, 234-1783; and Sistersville Police, 652-1570.
For more information you may visit the following websites: drugfree.org, urbandictionary.com, mentalhealth.org, or substanceabuseusa.org