Last updated on November 20, 2019
Handcuffs & Coffee brings the issues of local law enforcement back to the coffee table: Our community, our issues, our responsibility.
As we approach the holiday season I can’t help but recall training I received early on about alcohol and drug prevention in youth. Law Enforcement has observed the consequences of the breakdown of the nuclear family, a loss of socialization due to busy schedules and electronics. A 2012 study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University shows that frequent family meals may help kids talk to their parents about what’s happening in their lives.
Some findings of note in the 2012 report tell us that teens reporting fewer than three family meals a week are 3 times more likely to say it’s okay for teens their age to use marijuana and 3.5 times more likely to say it’s okay to get drunk. Teens who eat with their families five or more times a week are far less likely to report that they expect to try drugs to include marijuana and prescription drugs in the future.
This indicates that teens who sit and eat a family meal five or more times a week are less likely to abuse controlled substances or alcohol than teens who eat with their family less than three times a week. Just stop and think about that, a simple meal with your family is one of the most powerful drug and alcohol prevention tools out there, a tool we are all familiar with.
We have an opportunity this holiday season to start a new tradition, one that long ago was the norm. We will sit together as families for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners this year, there will be laughter and smiles and stories told. Let’s all make an effort to continue to meet as families, have a meal, and talk about our days activities.
It doesn’t require any agenda or discussion topics. It only requires that we make time for family and prepare a meal. Gathering at a meal fosters open communication and allows our families to become closer, making it easier to discuss sensitive topics.
We should all strive to slow down this holiday season and spend time together as families. Put down the electronics for an hour or two and really talk to one another. Let’s start an old tradition anew.
Here’s wishing your families the best this holiday season.
Chief Wayne A. Smith is currently employed by the City of Lodi Wi. Smith is a charter member (1996) of The Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators (WAHI) and held the office of President (2012-2013), and in 2011 was named Death Investigator of the Year by WAHI.