Video campaign inspires parents to talk to their teens about marijuana

OXNARD, Calif. – Ventura County Behavioral Health has extended its teen health educational program, “How High Ventura County,” with a video Public Service Announcement campaign to inspire parents to begin a marijuana dialogue with their teens. The effort, entitled “Say No to Fine,” categorically rejects the scare tactics of the past, which erred in placing too heavy a burden of ‘just saying no’ on the shoulders of teens.

Building awareness of the fact that marijuana affects teenagers quite differently than adults, the transparent, apolitical health messaging confronts the reality that one in four high school juniors in Ventura County is smoking marijuana (California Health Kids Survey), and 77 percent of teens nationwide now think it is safe to smoke marijuana (SAMSHA, Vice News1, 2016). The campaign will engage parents across Ventura County.

Featuring five new video PSAs – three in English, two in Spanish – the campaign urges parents to become aware of the emotional issues beneath the surface that often lead to drug experimentation and abuse – i.e. stress, anxiety, bullying, etc. – inviting parents to reject surface-level dinner-table discourse that simply trusts everything with their son or daughter is “fine.”

The English language tagline, “#SayNoToFine”, is a playful nod to the ads of a generation ago, which failed to effectively reduce teen marijuana usage and abuse. The Spanish language tagline “#DímeMás,” inspires parents to invite their children to tell them more.

“We can’t legislate away the problem of teen use, but we can’t just sit silently on the sidelines and let the marijuana industry target our kids, either,” said Daniel Hicks, a father of two teenagers and the Manager of VCBH Prevention Services, Alcohol & Drug Programs Division. “To successfully reduce local teen use and abuse of marijuana, we must empower parents to lead this dialogue with their teen.”

“The latest research reveals marijuana is harmful for the teenage brain. It leads to long-term health consequences, is more popular than binge drinking in some Ventura
County school districts, and is the first drug of choice among teenagers currently in Ventura County drug rehabilitation programs,” said Rigo Vargas, Public Health Director, Ventura County Health Care Agency. “We support our Behavioral Health colleagues in asking parents to become partners in helping teens realize that marijuana affects teens differently than adults.”

“We invite parents to help us build on the momentum of our “How High Ventura County” initiative, through which we’ve already educated nearly ten thousand middle school and high school students across 17 of 18 Ventura County secondary school districts. We’ve increased teen awareness of marijuana harm in 95 percent of all the 7th graders we’ve reached,” said Patrick Zarate, Division Manager for ADP. “Our classroom efforts directly confront the fact that 77 percent of teenagers nationwide don’t believe marijuana is harmful. However, in the wake of potential marijuana legalization, we can only truly begin to change teen behaviors if our parents and adult residents are actively and consistently helping our teens make smarter health choices.”

The #SayNoToFine and #DímeMás video PSAs will be showcased on www.HowHighVenturaCounty.org next to the department’s flagship quiz “What’s Your HighQ,” and be featured on YouTube ads and at local movie theaters.

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