According to the 2016 Iowa Youth Survey, one third of Dallas County 11th Graders responding stated that they felt smoking marijuana would make them more popular (respected or cool) with the other students at their school.


How do we as adults responsible for the well-being of our young people compete against that? It’s normal for teens to crave popularity. Detaching from parents and valuing relationships with peers is part of normal social development in adolescents. However, teenagers have not yet developed the critical thinking skills and wisdom needed to see the difference between fitting in and engaging in unhealthy and/or dangerous activities.


A key to helping the teens you know avoid poor choices is continuing to reach out. Even when the response from your teen is a few mumbled words, continue to let them know you care and are available when they need help. Another key is to check your own behavior. Are you walking the talk?


Some other results of the 2016 Iowa Youth Survey showed that 9% of Dallas County youth currently used alcohol, and 6% of Dallas County Youth reported using tobacco products. There is much more information at http://www.iowayouthsurvey.iowa.gov/images/2016_County_reports/25.Dallas.