OASIS Art Mural

(Paterson, NJ) The Paterson Coalition Against Substance Abuse (P-CASA) has partnered with OASIS in creating a pro-social prevention mural addressing under-age drinking and substance abuse prevention. The mural is a service learning based project conceptualized and led by local teens who envisioned the destructiveness of choosing the wrong path. Local artist and Coalition member, Samuel Salfino, worked closely with the boys to help create the empowering message conveyed through the artwork. The mural portrays the maze of life and how different choices take teens on different paths. It emphasizes how the positive choices (school, sports, family) are within the teens’ control and will lead to greater success.

The timing of the mural unveiling was planned to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Month. Founded and sponsored by National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the aim of Alcohol Awareness Month is to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcoholism by encouraging communities to reach out each April with information about alcohol, alcoholism and recovery. The 2016 theme, “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use” draws attention to the role parents can play in preventing teen alcohol use.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for Paterson’s youth. Surveys conducted with high school students found that 1 in 4 Paterson youth drank alcohol in the past 30 days, and 40% of youth did not think that drinking alcohol was a risky behavior. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. “The misperception among youth that alcohol use does not place them at risk is alarming, as underage drinking threatens opportunity and success for far too many of our kids. Prevention programs work best when parents, students, schools, law enforcement officials, and communities join together to fight back. We are thankful for our partnership with local community based organizations, and the support of Oasis in getting the message out,” said Dr. Robert Reid, P-CASA director.

“We are thrilled to be part of this collaboration with P-CASA,” noted Oasis Executive Director Jennifer Brady. “Our teen boys were truly engaged with this project, which included examining the choices that are presented to them every day. The mural is a beautiful representation of positive values, community support, and future success.”

The Paterson Coalition Against Substance Abuse (P-CASA) is community partnership of the Department of Family and Child Studies at Montclair State Universities College of Education and Human Services. P-CASA works with the community of Paterson’s 1st Ward to empower its members to build a safe, healthy, and drug-free environment. Learn more about P-CASA by visiting p-casa.org and about Montclair State University at http://www.montclair.edu/cehs/.  Oasis is a non-profit whose mission is to change the lives of women, teens, and children by breaking the cycle of poverty through compassionate programs designed to feed, clothe, educate and empower. Learn more at oasisnj.org.

Summer Concerts and Teenage Substance Use

P-CASAThe summer is an exciting season of the year, allowing teens to enjoy their free time but for parents to as well. Lucky for us, we live in an area that’s so full of outdoor activities and events, there’s never a dull moment during the summertime – especially when it comes to summer concerts.

But summer concerts are one of the greatest opportunities for teens to sneak alcohol or use other drugs and many often wind up abusing it to the point of needing medical attention. Before you allow your teens to go to a concert with a group of friends, lay out some ground rules so your teens know you mean business.


The first step to letting your teen know you’re serious about their safety is to set a strict curfew for nights like this. Depending on the timing of the concert, you should be able to justify perhaps a bit of a later curfew, but make it reasonable. Let them know the consequences if they don’t make it home in time.

Pick up

Speaking of getting home in time, dropping off and picking up should definately be a topic of conversation. Don’t be the parents who assume your children will be with a group of totally responsible friends. Be cautious and offer to drop off and pick up your teen, or work out the mass transit schedule with your child.

Call parents

This is the oldest trick in the book, calling other parents of your teen’s friends to find out what their plans are for the concert. Find out if there’s a parent in the group who has offered to drive to the concert, and get organized about who’s going to be there. There’s never going to be a fair way to make sure your teen isn’t drinking or using drugs, but by being an informed parent, you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever happens next.

Offer to attend the concert

If you’re really concerned about what your teen might be doing at the concert, offer to attend the concert, even if you really don’t plan on it. This way, you can expect to see two types of reactions – afraid and angry, or totally cool. If your teen is cool about it, chances are they’re not planning on doing anything wrong. If they’re upset about it, you might have a problem on your hands.

Let them know they can call you

Most importantly, you want your teen to feel comfortable talking with you as a parent; regardless of the situation they’re in. Never tell your teen it is okay to drink illegally while underage or use other substances like marijuana or prescription drugs but let them know if they need help, you’ll be there. There is nothing more important than making your teen feel like they can confide in you without any judgment, so do exactly that.

Visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog-categories/healthy-minds-and-bodies they have a great section on teens and substance use-and a post about summer concerts and festival!

Tips for Getting your Teens to Talk without Technology

P-CASADid you know that 77% of teens ages 12-17 own a cell phone, and 63% of teens say they text message every day? Face it – cell phones, computers and tablets are a big part of our lives. Once you realize it has been weeks since you had a real talk with your teen- besides via text message or a phone call, it’s time to tell them to put down the phone and talk without it. Here’s how:

Be Role Models for Moderation

If you’re not practicing what you preach, how can you expect your teens to? By the time kids reach their teenage years, they’re not easily tricked anymore. In fact, they are much more in tune than ever before, so it is important to be the role model. As a parent, show that you can disconnect from technology easily, especially when you are having family time.

Take Your Time

The constant demand and stress among peers to have the latest and greatest phone or tablet is something that will never go away. Before technology, this demand was still present, and it always will be in teens. So the next time your teen is begging you to get them the latest iPhone that was released don’t rush it. Before you even initially buy your teen a cellphone, make sure they are mature and responsible enough to handle having one. Create a payment plan for them to use to pay you back for their phone, limit their monthly text messages, etc.

Set Rules at Home

It is one thing when your teens are at school with their phones, and it’s another when they are at home. While most schools ban cellphones during classes, it is not as common for families to ban cellphones during dinner or at church. Try to create a method that shows your teens that they cannot be on the phone or online at all times, and they have to focus sometimes on talking face to face.


Snooping and watching are two different things. Snooping is enough to break your teens’ trust forever; but watching is protecting and keeping them safe. Your goal should be to watch by keeping an eye on monthly cellphone usage, how often you see them with their phone in their hands or pocket, how comfortable they are with leaving their phones around you. If they can’t put down their phones for just a minute and step away – that’s a problem. Be on the lookout for this behavior.

It’s our job to teach our kids what life was like before cellphones and technology. Help them learn how to talk and interact with others in different ways so that they can develop the same skills as those who know what life was like without cellphones.

Talk to your kids about alcohol

p-casaAs much as we all hate to admit it, teenage drinking is never going away. During the teen years our brains are constantly questioning what is right and wrong and teens are often being pressured by others to do what friends are even if it means breaking the rules.

While we can’t be responsible for the behaviors of all teenagers, we can be responsible for our own teens, and treat them with the respect they wish to receive.

Underage drinking does not have to be something that is swept under the rug, it is something we should be vocal about and talk with our children about.

Don’t wait until your teenager is already doing risky things, have “the talk” with them when they are young so they are aware of the dangers of underage drinking early on. Not only will this be more effective if you are talking to them early, but it will also give them confidence and prepare them for when they are confronted with hard decisions such as drinking.

Here are some of the topics that should be covered:

  • Expectations – Make sure your child knows what you expect of them. Clearly state that you don’t want them doing these behaviors, even if all of their friends are.
  • Maintain Self-Respect – When you are explaining why drinking is not allowed, try to appeal to their self-respect. Let them know that they are too smart and talented to need alcohol. Also remind them that alcohol can lead to situations where they have less power over themselves, which could damage their self-respect or hurt important relationships.
  • Dangers – Regardless of whether or not you are driving under the influence, there are many other dangers associated with underage drinking. It increases your vulnerability to sexual assault, unprotected sex, STD’s and HIV, violence and alcohol poisoning.

We know these conversations can be difficult; there are many resources available to assist. The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a great campaign “Talk. They Hear You.” http://www.samhsa.gov/underagedrinking/ and for a more information to having “the talk” with your teen, visit NIH, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and make a difference today!