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Mobilizing Parents for Prevention

Jesķs Cabrera SolŪs
Centers for Youth Integration (CIJ)

Today, we have two outstanding people from our two countries whose contributions will undoubtedly be of great interest to everyone here today. The first to take the floor shall be Mr. Bautista, who is President of the National Parents Association in my country. He has a BA in business management and specializes in business direction. Prior to being President of the National Parents Association, he was President of his State Association for the parents. I briefly would like to tell you how important this parentsí association is by first of all pointing out that in our country we have 19 million parents with children in school. There are a total of 194,500 committees of parents throughout the country, one per school. There also are 32 state parents associations, one per state. And grouped in this national association are parents whose children are in different types of schools, such as the special education children, preschool children, grade school, middle school and secondary school children. This association groups together all of the parents with children in private and public schools.

L.A. Jose Luis Perez Bautista
National Association of Parents

Mobilizing parents is a very important goal. We should strive in workshops, training sessions, exhibits, conferences, preventative meetings, and at sports events to talk with parents with the common objective of preventing drug use and addiction. Parent associations have been important sources for sharing information in schools as well as in the home. Parents can attend the school where their children study, and schools can offer workshops that deal with a great many subjects that benefit the relationships between the home and the school. It is in the schools where subjects of prevention and drug use are delved into and information can be brought to all parents. If we consider that the school, the community and the parents as well as participating institutions are all working towards a common end, then we will agree that our joint work toward these objectives will produce better and greater results than the isolated efforts of only one of the parties. Many experiences have shown this.

Experiences that link the school with the community are vital and can be achieved by devoting an hour per month or every fortnight to holding meetings with parents and children and youths. Subjects can be approached in a basic and simple way, for example, entering into agreements to talk with their family members about specific topics of importance to the work of prevention.

It is important to consider that today education is not to be given in an isolated way. Rather, it often involves a comprehensive effort by many institutions working together. These institutions can form a comprehensive development system where the family, the National Education Institute for Adults, the Social Security Institute, state workers, Social Services, the Department of Health, Youth Integration Centers, General Attorney's Office, and representatives from Mexico City and the country participate together constantly in the area of education. Such collaboration allows these agencies and institutions to focus their specialized knowledge of prevention and their experienced prevention staff to work with teachers in their schools in order to provide broad knowledge about preventing youth substance use. Also, school curricula contain information regarding delinquency prevention, lack of safety, preventing drug use and addiction, smoking, and alcoholism. It is important to remember that many times these subjects are also important to discuss with parents.

The right to protect the health of children, of young people and of all Mexican citizens is set forth in our Constitution and its provisions. To fully comply with this, all institutions and parents need to work together. Institutions must offer those services required for the well-being of the population. And parents in the community at large should accept the commitment individually and collectively, of developing and implementing a prevention culture, self-care, and safety. We know that health, safety and education are a shared responsibility. Parents who have organized in our country ratify our commitment to continue contributing in these areas. The government of our country must continue forward with firm public health policies, policies of safety and education that are congruent with the needs of most Mexicans. Organized parents in the country and our organization, through me, have firmly requested that the health and education sectors, as well as those institutions and agencies in charge of law and safety enforcement, establish closer coordination links to reinforce the training and education of our youth in order to prevent violence and delinquency. To this end, undoubtedly, the joint responsibility of everyone is required. In the area of health and prevention, we and our children require constant orientation campaigns that will allow our community to reduce the risks and diseases as well as addictions and violence that they produce.

It is timely to repeat that the National Parents' Association finds it necessary to reinforce guidance programs and information programs in the areas of drug use, violence and crime, both for our parents as well as for our children. We need to strengthen the mechanisms that will allow for us to more rigorously inform our children and our youth throughout the school system, so that we can truly, more efficiently prevent and alert them regarding the brutal risk that drugs represent for their own health and the eventual health of their families. That is why we must speak to our children objectively and truthfully with the greatest respect that all families and sectors of the population deserve, but also clearly enough so that all of our programs and campaigns will have the impact we want. We know of no father wishing evil for his or her children. We know of no teacher that wishes to shape a poor citizen, but I also know of no other way of guiding parents and families if it is not through the help of everyone that takes part in the educational process and in our institutions.

The government, headed by President Zedillo and his distinguished wife as well as the parents of our country have joined efforts. We must acknowledge that we have a good stretch to cover, but only through the will and organized work of institutions and the community, can we forge ahead. Parents will make this effort in favor of our children, for our schools where they go to receive knowledge, and for Mexico. Thank you very much.

Henry Lozano
Californians for Drug Free Youth
United States

Itís an honor to be here today. Itís an honor to address you. As my esteemed colleagues have already mentioned, the basic principle of our discussion this afternoon is to think about the implications of the family. How many of you know that across this country, and across other countries, when you mention things like prevention, and then connect the logical connector, in my mind—the family, that somehow thereís a bridge that still has to be built to understand the importance, the value and the implication of families and parents coming together in communities to address the issue of substance abuse and illicit drug prevention?

How many of you know that thereís still a bridge out there that has to be crossed? Thereís still a vast lack of understanding about the value of community. Iím proud to be part of a number of institutions and agencies across this country that have forged bridges into communities, that have forged alliances with different agencies, and have gone the extra mile in their efforts to consider how they might approach bringing together agencies, communities, resources, and most importantly, family. Parents. La familia. The center. The core of every institution within every city. You know how we always draw the case that we have to move to the cities. Weíve got to move to the communities. Weíve got to impact the legislatures. Weíve got to impact the local civil governments and the institutions that reside out there. But more at heart, we have to impact the family.

I compliment the previous speaker in his points about understanding specifically that there isnít a family anywhere, not one family, that would look upon their children without heart and not want the best for their child, the best in that childís development, education, welfare, growth, environment, status, and achieving. The one thing I do know, that this morning, as this conference was started, we had a wonderful communicator. A speaker before the dignitaries, a dignitary in her own right. A young lady who advanced the charge, a charge about her nation, a charge about her people and a charge about the declaration of the value of young people in their incorporated necessity in what we call prevention and family dynamics. I would say to you that the reason we continue to call parents and family the hardest domain to reach is because we havenít understood what theyíre listening for. We continue to frighten our families. The moment we use the word drugs, we have families across this nation and across Mexico that instantly are perplexed by the dilemma of what it would mean to associate with a drug prevention organization. Would somebody actually think that my family was involved in that kind of a lifestyle? If I went to help and support, would somebody perceive that what I was there for was help? Across this nation and across Mexico, we have a common thread, a common theme to involve and incorporate people. One of the campaigns that Iíve been honored to be involved with was this campaign that was under SAMHSAís direction and The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). Our administrator, Dr. Nelba Chavez, founded this program, moved it across this country with the Association of Collaborative Agencies, and important individuals in this room who advanced it. The project had a primary focus. The focus was to deliver to parents, both English and Spanish, a tool-kit, a digest of suggestions and possibilities of programs dialogue forums to encourage communities to start talking at the family level. And the question has always been: what can this do?

Let me give you a quick brief of what this can do. I stand here a proud and honored son of two incredible people—two individuals who gave me my life, who gave me an understanding of what it is to work everyday. My fatherís side came from Chihuahua, Mexico. My motherís side are Apache from southwestern New Mexico. These two people gave me what I understand today to be an honorable son. They gave me the facility to understand what it is to be a son of integrity, a son who responded to his fatherís name, a son who respected his mother. Now you smile at that because in this gathering, that understanding is imperative. I had a father who worked seven days a week and a mother who carried a broom seven days a week, not to sweep the floor but to crack it on our backs if we didnít respond the way we should have while Daddy wasnít there. I understood at an early age. From the early days of my upbringing the one thing inside of me, the one thing that held me true to course, the one thing that advanced me forward, was the understanding that my mother and father cared about who I was as a child, that my father understood the value of complimenting me as a son, that my mother understood the value of always being my public relations expert.

Every time mother got up and introduced me, she would tell everybody 50% of a non-truth by telling them how wonderful I was. And she would tell 50% of the truth. All of those things that I did do. But my mother continued to advance the prospect that her firstborn son was a man of honor and integrity like her husband was.

Why did my mother do that? Why did my mother continue to advance a son in such a spectacular way? And then subsequently, my brothers and sisters? Because my mother understood that the man she married, Enrique Lozano, was a man of integrity, a man of honor, a man of value. And to inspire that in me, she had to continue to reinforce in the communityís public eye, that I was also a man of integrity. And what did that mean in our family? What did that say about us? What impression did that give about us locally? It gave other people the impression that this firstborn was a man who was going to carry out his fatherís ways.

I want to tell you that that was the most important lesson my family could have ever given me. All of the curriculum, of the institutions, of the programs that were assembled could never have taught me what my mother and father gave me in my principles of life. And Iím proud of that. Iím proud of where my dad, proud of where my motherís people come from. On this side of the border Iím proud of who I am. And to understand that pride in me is what I gave to my children. Itís what I hope to give when Iím a grandfather. I hope to see that respect come back to me. Iím going to tell you why. Iím going to tell you that we must come to that conclusion as a country.

Iím proud to be of another campaign—The National Media Campaign. The Anti-Drug Campaign that is moving across this country to bring a baseline value of understanding and clarity to this nation on how it goes about investing in its children. In my mind itís the most important campaign of value that could happen in the United States. Iím proud of the leadership, the director, General Barry McCaffrey, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the strategy thatís been implemented to move a campaign across this nation, to send this country a message: that our young people are not tomorrowís future. Please hear this. That our young people are not tomorrowís hope. That our young people are not tomorrowís future. They are todayís future. Our young people happen to be the pride of today. My mother never said to anybody in public, when this young man finally grows up, then heíll have some value. When this young man finally gets his degree and five years experience, then heíll be worth something. When this man finally gets to be, well, as tall as my father, when this young man can fill my fatherís shoes, or my husbandís shoes, as my mother would say, and walk in them in a manly way, then he will be of value. My mother understood intrinsically that the value was placed within me coming from her, from her very words, from her heart. My familia, my family, is a family thatís intact today. A family of brothers and sisters that wait for our annual reunions, that have a better time when weíre together than when weíre not. And itís all because of two people who championed that the common thread, the common voice in both our countries. We have to speak with confidence, with integrity and dignity to our young people. But not about what theyíre doing wrong, but about what theyíre doing right.

We have to move and advance throughout both of our countries. The honor and respect of the family as it is today. The common theme that both of our countries understand is that we have something of value, imperative value, that exists today. Itís our young people, working alongside us. Now. Not tomorrow. Not after they go to school. Today. Itís moving our young people in such a primary form that that young woman who spoke this morning would be the champion of every other young voice in both of our countries, if they would speak with the dedication and honor, knowing that someday their mother and father are going to hear those same words, those same suggestions, that any mother or father that would sit right there and listen to their son.

If it wouldnít have been that today was the day and my mother and father were otherwise engaged, my hope was to have my father and my mother sitting right there right now. My hope would have been that with these eyes, I could have looked at my father and I could have looked at my mother at this luncheon and I could have said ďSaluteĒ to them. I could have been with honor to understand that my people gave me a destiny. A proud destiny.

Toolkits. Iím proud of this one. Probably because I sit on the steering committee and because I get to work with a wonderful group of people. I want you to know that this is a wonderful product that would work in Mexico as well as the United States. And I know the administrator and the local dignitaries here from SAMHSA would love to move this to both countries. I would love to be invited to advance this product because itís a product that has an ethic to it. That has a moral support to it.

Another opportunity Iíd like to share with you is that within this nation, thereís a network of people who are working together to advance the issues of alcohol and substance abuse across our peopleís venues. And thereís a conference thatís going to happen. Iím sounding like a hawker now. Itís for the millennium. Itís going to happen October 18-20 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That conference will bring together the finest in research, the finest in researchers, and leadership across this nation to look at our issues and to consequently forge together the bridge to the communities, the bridge to the leadership within communities. I would invite those of you from Mexico who sit here today to know that we invite you to that conference. We would like to forge that bridge with the wonderful work thatís going on. We have begun a bridge to connect to our families. The day is today. Today is the day to continue to advance.

I would also like to thank our Department of Education. I would like to thank Mr. William Modzeleski who is here today, because of the schools and the imperative projects that have gone on with our Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, the projects that have ventured across this nation to reach young people. The caretakers who usually become the formal providers for our young people happen to be those educators across this country who act as surrogate parents in incredible ways. The tools that are needed are there. The instruments that are needed are there. The collaboration mechanisms for these two countries coming together are there. I am proud that there are young people here today. Without these young people, without the people right there with us, our wholeness, our young people, young men and young women who are the leadership here, without them, we the fathers and mothers do not have a future.

My closing comment: When Iím a grandfather, it will be in my honor and dignity to have grandchildren who want to come and see me. Just like I want to see my mother and father. It will be an honor for those little kids to sit in my lap. To sit and look up at grandpa and to say I love you. It will be an honor for this grandfather to tell his grandchildren that, just as my father and mother gave me that gift, I love you back. Do you know what? I will never understand that privilege unless I create the respect and the tradition of that love and honor within my own childrenís lives. Because they will be the ones that will convey that thought to my grandchildren. They will be the ones that tell my grandchildren in their homes that Grandpaís a good man. Grandmaís a good woman. We need to go see Grandma and Grandpa.

What does this have to do with prevention? Prevention in its heart and soul, is the fabric of this nationís mind and the nationís mind in Mexico. It was us remembering that the prize and the goal that we always had, was to raise children of honor, dignity and purpose.