Plain outreach panel talks “Hot Topics”

By Savvas Bournelis, News Editor — The Community Outreach Panel sponsored “How To Talk To Your Kids About Hot Topics”. Feature speakers were Judge Frank Forchione, Kay Port who represented Stark County Care Teams, Representative of Stark County Family Court, Jacob Morgan and School Counselor Christiana Papaleo.

Several topics were discussed such as drug addiction, bullying, suicide and internet safety. The objective of the meeting was to provide strategies to connect with students and their parents or guardians about important issues.

“We are seeing a rise of these issues around the country and even locally,” Forchione said.

Forchione spoke about drug addiction. He is a firm believer in the statistics that show heroin is the number one killing drug.

“Many drug addicts I talk to have all said that the main reason they wanted to try it was because they needed that extra spark in their life,” Forchione said. “Maybe home life isn’t that good, school is stressful, life happens and they wanted to add something more exciting to their everyday lifestyle by erasing all the problems to their life but what they don’t realize is that by interacting with drugs, it does not make things better. It only creates more problems.”

There are endless opportunities for kids to get out of dangerous situations they are in. The most important opportunities one can partake in is having close communication and good relationships. This was stressed many times throughout the topics discussed. Port spoke about the importance of relationship building and close communication between parents and their child.

“A key factor to why kids are in these types of situations, sadly, is the home life and even the circle of friends a child has,” Port said. “Parents and guardians need to break that barrier between them and their child. When a relaxed and close relationship is established, good things can come out of it.”

Some people were concerned with how to communicate with the children about the stress they are dealing with but trying not to communicate with them to the point where it puts more stress on the child.

“I believe that it’s better to have communication rather than none. People need to express their concern and love but do it in small increments rather than in big ones,” Port said.

Peer pressure can be a leading cause to some of the choices kids make such as cutting, lonesomeness and even suicide.

“Suicide is a serious issue,” Papaleo said. “We need to be on our guard at all times. If someone jokes around about committing suicide we need to take them seriously.”

Papaleo gave many statistics that those who attended the evening’s topics were shocked to hear. From September of 2013 up to January of 2015, there have been seven children who committed suicide in Stark County, three of which were middle schoolers. Papaleo stated that 4-5 kids who want to commit suicide show clear signs and prefigurements that they will do so or are thinking about suicide.

“We need to take action and it all goes back to what Port said. Close communication and strong relationships matter and can turn a situation worse to better,” Papaleo said.

Stress, peer pressure, and bullying are few of the many causes why kids get caught up in bad decisions.

“Kids have access to many things we use to not have but often times they misuse them and can cause bad things to occur,” Jacob Morgan said. “It is important for parents or guardians to know what their kids are looking up and what situations they are in.”

Morgan said 21 percent of parents or guardians do not supervise at all and 71 percent stop supervision when their kid reaches the age of 14.

Those that attended the meeting gathered a great amount of knowledge in different hot topic situations. The community hopes to continue to keep fighting against the burdens parents and their children face.

[Updated Aug. 10, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]