Not My Child: Suffolk’s Drug Epidemic
County Executive Steve Bellone, in partnership with the Rocky Point School District, announced the launch of a groundbreaking effort to alert parents to the dangers of substance abuse through a compelling public service announcement. Rocky Point School District is serving as the pilot school district, posting the PSA on its parents portal and requiring parents to view it before they can access their children’s final report card.
“The launch of this groundbreaking campaign to raise awareness is a critical step toward reducing the alarming rates of prescription drug and opiate abuse we have experienced in Suffolk County and across our Nation,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “I want to thank our parent advocates and the Rocky Point School District for having the courage to stand up and speak out about this crisis.”
Entitled “Not My Child: Suffolk’s Drug Epidemic”, the public service announcement can be viewed at www.suffolkcountyny.gov/substanceabuse as well as www.facebook.com/stevebellone. The PSA has received thousands of independent views since it was first made public.
“As a community, we must work together to fight the growing drug epidemic,” said Legislator Sarah Anker. “Through the County’s partnership with the Rocky Point School District, this Public Service Announcement can alert parents of the warning signs of drug use and also offer them support and direction. I applaud the brave parents for sharing their stories in the video, in the hope that they will save another child’s life.”
Rocky Point School District is the first school district in Suffolk County to require parents to view the video. Suffolk County officials hope for more districts to follow Rocky Point’s advocacy on this issue.
“With the support of our Board of Education, Rocky Point is committed to working with those in our community to combat the issue of substance abuse head-on and has put forth the necessary resources to continue, as well as build upon, our programs,” said Rocky Point School District Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Ring. “We are grateful that the County Executive’s office has chosen to partner with the district on such an important matter and were honored to be a part of this project. The district looks forward to continuing to develop this partnership in order to benefit the youth and families of our community and thanks all who lent their voices to such an important cause. As we all know, this topic is of growing concern on a local, regional and national level, and I am proud that our school district continues to lead the way in working to combat this issue.”
“This video puts a human face on the opiate crisis that is impacting so many families and Suffolk County and underscores the importance of school families and communities working together to combat addiction,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, Executive Director of the LI Council on Alcohol & Drug Dependence. “Kudos to the Rocky Point School District and a special thanks to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone for his leadership in promoting substance abuse prevention and access to treatment. Every parent in Suffolk County should have access to this eye-opening, life-saving information and I hope other districts will consider posting this video on their websites and parent portals.”
The development of the video came as a result of the rising rates of substance abuse related deaths. In Suffolk County, there were approximately 82 documented heroin overdose deaths in 2013, compared to 38 in 2010.
Featured in the public service announcement are Suffolk County residents Tracey Budd and Brian Phillips who both lost their children to substance abuse. Both Budd and Phillips volunteered to tell their stories in hopes of preventing the same tragedy that befell their families.
“My hope is for parents to be aware, to not turn a blind eye,” said Budd. “Don’t be afraid to do your job as a parent – it may save their life.”
“Thank you for not being afraid to do this project,” said Phillips. “As we move forward, we need to lose the stigma attached to drug addicts. It’s a disease that you can recover from on a daily basis.”