VCPS Aims to Keep Kids Sober

Valley City Public Schools want parents to know there is another useful weapon in the fight against teen substance abuse.

A link to Parents LEAD (Listen, Educate, Ask and Discuss), a website for parents who worry about their child drinking alcohol or using drugs, was recently sent in an email to parents.

“The Parents LEAD program is far from a ‘12-step program, it is more so a resource available to parents to be able to start and continue the conversation with their children about underage drinking and drug use,” said VCPS technology coordinator Bryan Kriewald in the email. “Parents LEAD was created by four partnering agencies, including the NDDOT (North Dakota Department of Transportation), who each have brought valuable and applicable information for parents to utilize.”

Other members of the partnership are the North Dakota Department of Human Services, the North Dakota University System Consortium for Substance Abuse and the North Dakota State University Extension Service. Parents LEAD was first developed by a grant received by the NDDOT in 2005 and was redesigned through the partnership last year.

The redesign sought to provide comprehensive age-appropriate information, tips, tools, and resources to parents on how to talk to their child about serious subjects such as alcohol use, using drugs and other high-risk behaviors like impaired driving.

The key component of the non-profit group is its website,, where parents can find age-appropriate information on how to discuss substance abuse with children ranging from toddlers to college students and young adults, as well as other tips, resources and information.

Some sobering statistics on the site show that 73 percent of high school kids have had a drink at least once in their life and 31 percent have participated in binge drinking in the last month. The state is ranked No. 1 in binge alcohol use for people ages 12 to 20. Another 73 percent of high school students say that binge drinking is not risky behavior.

Of all arrests in the state, 46 percent are drug and/or alcohol related, including 23 percent of all juvenile arrests.

Twenty-eight percent of North Dakota high school students had ridden one or more times during the past 30 days in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol and 15 percent had driven a car or other vehicle when they had been drinking alcohol. According to the state highway patrol, 52 percent of all fatal crashes in the state are alcohol-related.