Marion County students reported youth rates for alcohol and marijuana are significantly above state and national levels in 6th and 8th grade. Local use rates for marijuana are particularly concerning. In some areas of the county 8th grade students report current use of alcohol at rates nearly 1.5 times higher than their peers at the national level. Even more disturbing, 5 times as many 6th graders and more than 2 times as many 8th graders report using marijuana than others in the same grades throughout the state and/or nation.
In general:

  • Marion County students begin using at younger age than other students across the state which increases risk of developing addiction
  • Monthly marijuana use nearly triples between 6th and 8th grades; from 6% in 6th grade to 17% in 8th grade.

Contributing risk factors, based on Communities that Care’s questions imbedded in the student survey, Marion County students showed higher levels of risk in the following areas:

  • 70% of students acknowledge a perception that Laws and Community Norms Favor Use
    • Perception of chances of being caught
    • How do neighbors feel about use
    • Positive relationships with neighbors- praised, noticed, encouraged
  • 65% of students indicate family conflict
    • Serious arguments
    • Insult one another
    • Same arguments over and over
  • 82% of students indicate interaction with anti-social peers of area 8th grade students
    • # of best friends suspended – 50%
    • # of best friends arrested – 14.5%
    • Sold drugs – 25%

Why Strengthening Families Program?

The Strengthening Families Program is a seven week program selected to address family conflict risk factors. The SFP training has proven effectiveness and positive outcomes in the following areas:

  • Increased Positive Parenting, Supervision and Involvement
  • Decreased Parental Substance Abuse and Parent & Child Depression
  • Increase in Child’s Social Skills
  • Reduced Child Aggression, Concentration and Hyperactivity
  • Increase in Family Cohesion and Reduced Family Conflict
  • Increased Family Organization and Order, Communication Skills and Overall Strength & Resilience

SFP’s track record of improving parenting skills, developing substance-abuse resistant youth and creating better family environments make it an ideal prevention program to address many of the high risk factors and low protective factors these young people encounter.

Strengthening Families Curriculum

The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) is delivered in seven parent, youth, and family sessions using narrated videos portraying typical youth and parent situations with diverse families.

The program is taught with 7-10 families over seven weeks, usually in the evenings. It is recommended that the group size be smaller when dealing with families where parents have begun to have concerns over the problematic behavior of their youth.

This scientifically tested curriculum:

  1. Helps parents/caregivers learn nurturing skills that support their children,
  2. Teaches parents/caregivers how to effectively discipline and guide their youth,
  3. Gives youth a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers, and
  4. Teaches youth skills for dealing with stress and peer pressure.
The program addresses youth risk and protective factors:
Risk Factors

  • Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
  • Negative peer influence
  • Poor school performance
  • Lack of pro-social goals
  • Poor relationship with parents
Protective Factors

  • Positive future orientation
  • Peer pressure resistance skills
  • Pro-social peer relationships
  • Positive management of emotions
  • Empathy with parents

Parents and youth meet in separate groups for the first hour and together as families during the second hour to practice skills, play games, and do family projects. Sessions are highly interactive and include role-playing, discussions, learning games, and family projects.

  • Parent sessions consists of presentations, role-plays, group discussions, and other skill-building activities.
  • Youth sessions engage each youth in small and large group discussions, group skill practice, and social bonding activities.
  • Family sessions use specially designed games and projects to increase family bonding, build positive communication skills, and facilitate learning to solving problems together.
 Parent  Youth  Family  
  • Using Love and Limits
  • Making House Rules
  • Encouraging Good Behavior
  • Using Consequences
  • Building Bridges
  • Protecting Against Substance Abuse
  • Using Community Resources
  • Having Goals and Dreams
  • Appreciating Parents
  • Dealing with Stress
  • Following Rules
  • Handling Peer Pressure I
  • Handling Peer Pressure II
  • Reaching Out To Others
  • Supporting Goals and Dreams
  • Appreciating Family Members
  • Using Family Meetings
  • Understanding Family Values
  • Building Family Communication
  • Reaching Our Goals
  • Putting It All Together and Graduation

Four optional booster sessions can be held three to twelve months after the basic sessions.

 Parent  Youth  Family  
  • Handling Stress
  • Communicating When You Don’t Agree
  • Reviewing Love and Limits Skills
  • Reviewing How to Help with Peer Pressure
  • Handling Conflict
  • Making Good Friends
  • Getting the Message Across
  • Practicing Our Skills
  • Understanding Each Other
  • Listening to Each Other
  • Understanding Family Roles
  • Using Family Strengths
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