Friday, September 21, 2018

SAFE Coalition Member Attends National Prevention Network Conference

The National Prevention Network conference was held August 27-30, 2018 at the Boston Park Plaza. The conference was three days, complete with keynotes, breakouts, and networking opportunities. The conference theme for 2018 was A Revolution in Prevention Understanding the Past, Informing the Future.

The National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference (formerly called the NPN Prevention Research Conference) has a long-standing history. The first conference was held in 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri and has been conducted on an annual basis ever since in various cities around the country. Over the years, the conference has grown in size, hosting 700-1,000 participants.

The National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference hosts federal, state and local professionals from the substance abuse prevention field and related disciplines. Participants included: prevention providers, school personnel, government agency representatives and directors, law enforcement personnel, policy makers, coalition leaders and members, counselors, health education specialists, social workers, and high school students.

The purpose of the National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference is to highlight the latest research in the substance abuse prevention field. It provides a forum for prevention professionals, coalition leaders, researchers, and federal partners to share research, best practices and promising evaluation results for the purpose of integrating research into prevention practice.

The SAFE Coalition participant attended sessions that encouraged the coalition to focus on the following: Why Is It So Hard to get Attention on Prevention? Reflections of a Lifelong Bureaucrat; Prevention – Sustaining Our Focus in a Year of Change; Effective Prevention for Reducing e-cigarette Use Among Youth; Our Hidden Partners in Prevention: Top Ten Things Parents Need to Know about Alcohol, Marijuana, and Other Drugs; Early Warning Systems in the Age of the Opioid Epidemic – Information in Action; Underage Drinking: Still a Challenge, Still a Priority, Still a Success; There Has Always Been Drinking in America: Alcohol, History, Culture, and what it all means for Prevention; The regulatory options for state cannabis legalization: What prevention needs to know; Using a Trauma Informed Lens to inform Substance Misuse Prevention; Where we Began, Where We Are, and Where We’re Going: The Evolution of SAMHSA’s Evidence Based Prevention Programming; and Reducing Social Access and Shaping Future Enforcement Procedures.  For more information on the SAFE Coalition please call 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or email at  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Botvin Life Skills Training Curriculum

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition was awarded the Iowa Partnership for Success (IPFS) Grant in 2015 to address underage drinking and youth binge drinking in Van Buren County.  The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition’s IPFS project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

In June of 2016 the Iowa Department of Public Health approved the use of the Botvin Life Skills Training Curriculum at the Van Buren Community Jr. /Sr. High School to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County.  On July 20, 2016 the Van Buren Community School Board approved the implementation of the program in the 7th and 8th grade Explore Rotation.  In the 2016-17 school year both grades completed the Level I curriculum.  In the 2017-18 school year the 7th Grade students completed the Level I curriculum and the 8th Grade students completed the Level II curriculum as the Life Skills Curriculum builds on the information provided each year.  For the 2018-19 school year the 7th Grade students will again complete the Level I curriculum and the 8th Grade students will complete the Level II curriculum. 

The Botvin LifeSkills Training Middle School program is a substance abuse and violence prevention program based on over 30 years of rigorous scientific research. It is proven to be an effective evidence-based program used in schools today. LifeSkills Training is comprehensive and developmentally designed to promote positive youth development. It teaches youth to resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.  It also supports the reduction of violence and other                     high-risk behaviors. 

The program learning objectives area as follows:
·         Personal Self-Management Skills: Students develop skills that help them enhance self-esteem, develop problem-solving abilities, reduce stress and anxiety, and manage anger.
·         General Social Skills: Students gain skills to meet personal challenges such as overcoming shyness, communicating clearly, building relationships, and avoiding violence.
·         Drug Resistance Skills: Students build effective defenses against pressures to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.

For more information on the Life Skills Training curriculum please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or

Picture provided by Botvin Life Skills Training curriculum.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

September is National Suicide Prevention Month

By Kim Torguson of the Action Alliance
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) – the nation’s public-private partnership championing suicide prevention as a national priority – and its partners, like the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition in Iowa, are coming together to inform the public about simple actions that can support someone in crisis and potentially help save a life. This September, during National Suicide Prevention Month and National Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-15, 2018), the Action Alliance is asking organizations to step up to educate the public about the role anyone, anywhere can play in being there for someone who is struggling or in crisis.

Join the collective effort!
·       Promote the hashtag #BeThe1To when posting social media messages about being there
·       Visit our website to access information about our partner’s campaigns focused on being there for others

National Day of Prayer - Weekend of September 10, 2018
In collaboration with our #NSPW activities, the Action Alliance’s Faith Communities Task Force is promoting a National Day of Prayer for Faith Hope & Life the weekend of September 10, 2018. With September 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day, the Task Force is leading a national movement among faith communities that weekend to offer prayers and focus on tangible ways to be there for those in distress. In addition to visiting and promoting the National Day of Prayer webpage, other ways you and your partners can get involved include:
·       Pledge to participate on the weekend of 9/10, 
·       watch the video about the National Day of Prayer effort
·       view sample prayers from diverse faith traditions, and
·       promote the hashtags #PrayFHL and #NSPW

For more information on Suicide Prevention month please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or or checkout the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention website:

5 Tips to Prevent Underage Drinking During Homecoming

Sobering Up Editor
Homecoming is an annual rite of passage for high school students, and one that often involves alcohol. Underage drinking and alcohol-related crashes involving minors tend to increase during homecoming season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
·         22% of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes were drinking.
·         More than half of fatal motor accidents involving teen drivers occur on weekends.
·         Teens who use alcohol are far more likely to binge drink than adults.

Homecoming can come with more chances and pressures to drink. As students get ready for the big game and dance, here are 5 actions parents can take to prevent underage drinking.

Discuss your expectations about alcohol use: Parents may feel anything they say to their teen goes in one ear and out the other. In fact, parents do influence teens’ drinking decisions. Research shows children may interpret a parent’s failure to talk about underage drinking as indifference, making them more likely to use alcohol. Have regular conversations with your teen about alcohol misuse, and specifically talk about it before events, like homecoming, that may include alcohol.

Find out who your teen will be with and talk with the other students’ parents: Ask whether adults will be present if teens come by after the official event and consider the other family’s attitude toward underage drinking. Even though it is illegal and dangerous, some parents choose to provide alcohol to teens in their home. In the state of Iowa it is illegal to host a party with alcohol for youth per the statewide Social Host Ordinance.  Asking questions won’t score you any “cool” points with your kid, but it will help keep your teen safe.

Provide a sober after-party space: Many students want the night to continue after the game or dance ends. Providing an alcohol-free environment allows the party to keep going safely. And it’s important for parents to actively supervise after-parties. Adults can be held responsible for failing to supervise minors who are later caught drinking, even if the adult didn’t supply or know about the booze.

Offer to drive: Providing a guaranteed designated driver ensures your child won’t end up in a car with an intoxicated person behind the wheel. Driving your teen also removes other risks, such as texting or distracted driving, which may increase with the excitement of the evening.

Let your teen know you are “on call”: While parents should not condone underage drinking, it’s important for teens to know they can call for help if they or their friends don’t have a safe ride or are in danger.

For more information on how to talk with your teen contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or  You can also checkout the website for more resources at  

Friday, August 24, 2018

This Labor Day, and Every Day: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Each year, Americans mark the end of summer with the Labor Day holiday weekend, a time to celebrate the hard work and many accomplishments of our country. Friends and families eagerly await pool parties, backyard barbecues, and other occasions to enjoy the last days of summer sunshine. Sadly, the Labor Day holiday has also become one of the deadliest, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on their way home from these holiday festivities. This year, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 17 through September 3, 2018. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased State and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

Sadly, the statistics prove that we have a lot of work to do to put an end to drunk driving. According to NHTSA, 10,497 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2016. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2012 to 2016—one person killed every 50 minutes in 2016. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. This is why the Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. As you head out to Labor Day festivities, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Over the 2016 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. September 2 – 5:59 a.m. September 6), there were 433 crash fatalities nationwide. Of the fatal crashes, more than one-third (36%) involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ blood alcohol concentration [BAC]), and one-fourth (25%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC). Age is a particularly risky factor: Among the drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2016, 47 percent of those fatalities involved drunk drivers with BACs of .08 or higher.

We need our community to understand: It’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober—Labor Day, and every day. Drunk driving is a huge problem in our country, and the numbers are rising, little by little. This isn’t about a ticketing campaign. This is about a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives. Help us put an end to this senseless behavior. 

There is a small, silver lining: During the 2016 Labor Day holiday, 36 percent of fatalities in traffic crashes involved a drunk driver, which was one of the lowest percentages over the five-year period from 2012 to 2016. We still have a lot of work to do. The trend for the Labor Day holiday is in a positive direction, but our goal is to have zero fatalities, always.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the resources available to get them home safely. Drunk driving is not an acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses. 

The Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition recommend these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
·         Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan for someone to get you home safely.
·         Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices: (, and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices: ( SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
·         If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office (911).
·         Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Back to School Activities: It’s 3pm on a school day. Do you know where your children are?

As summer vacations end and students start a new school year, here are a few reasons you should encourage them to get involved with after-school activities:
·         Children & teens are more likely to be the victims of crime during the after-school hours than at any other time
·         Children & teens are more likely to participate in violent crimes during the after-school hours than at any other time
·         Children & teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol or drug use or sexual activity during the after-school hours than at any other time
Courtesy National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Our young children often attend after school daycare or programs provided by their elementary schools, but by the time children reach middle school they are often left on their own after school.  It seems sensible enough. They are old enough to get their own snacks and open their books to complete their homework. They know who to call if they have an emergency. However, adolescents benefit from after-school activities and supervision, too.

Youth who spend only a couple of hours per week in extracurricular after-school activities are significantly less likely to drop out of school; become teen parents; or use tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Spending 5-19 hours per week in after-school activities reduced the risk even further.

It is important that these activities are not just time wasters, but are programs that help youth develop skills and values and provide them with experiences that mean something to them.

It doesn't take a lot. Our schools and community offer a variety of after-school clubs, sports and activities. Encourage your children to find something that interests them and participate regularly.  If your student is in Grades 7-12 please have them check into the Youth Leadership Council that meets at the VBCSD Middle/High School.  This is a group sponsored by the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and works on leadership skills with the youth involved to address health, wellness, and substance abuse prevention in Van Buren County. 

For information on keeping your kids active and the activities available in Van Buren County you can contact the SAFE Coalition by phone at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or by email at

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Local Social Host Ordinance FAQ

Q:  Who is a social host?

A:  The ordinance states: A social host is any person who aids, conducts, allows, entertains, organizes, supervises, controls, or permits an event, gathering, or party.  This includes, but is not limited to: a) the person(s) who owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has control of the premises where the event, gathering, or party takes place; b) the person(s) in charge of the premises; or c) the person(s) who organized the event.  If the social host is a juvenile, then the parent(s) of that juvenile will be jointly and severally liable for any violation of this chapter. 

Q:  Does the Social Host Ordinance apply to property owners who are not present and do not know about the underage consumption of alcohol on their property?
A:  The ordinance states:  The social host knowingly permits or allows underage persons to consume alcoholic beverages, and/or controlled substances, and/or prescription drugs; The social host reasonably should know that an underage person or persons has consumed alcoholic beverages, and/or controlled substances, and/or prescription drugs; The social host knowingly permits or allows underage persons to possess an alcoholic beverage, and/or controlled substance(s), and/or prescription drug(s).  A social host who hosts such an event, gathering, or party does not need to be on the premises at the time the prohibited act occurs to be in violation of this chapter. 

A social host has an affirmative defense if the social host took reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or controlled substances, and/or prescription drugs such as contacting law enforcement and allowing officers onto the premises for the purpose of stopping these illegal activities.

So, if property is utilized for an underage drinking party without the owner’s knowledge the owner cannot be held liable. 

Q:  Does the Social Host Ordinance apply to events on Public Property?
A:  The ordinance states that a premises is any home, yard, farm, field, land, apartment, condominium, hotel or motel room, or other dwelling unit, or a hall or meeting room, park or any other place of assembly, public or private, whether occupied on a temporary or permanent basis, whether occupied as a dwelling or specifically for a party or other social function, and whether owned, leased, rented, or used with or without permission or compensation.

So if an event is held on public property where underage persons are consuming alcohol and the host knowingly allows the consumption to go on they can be held liable. 

A social host has an affirmative defense if the social host took reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or controlled substances, and/or prescription drugs such as contacting law enforcement and allowing officers onto the premises for the purpose of stopping these illegal activities.

Q:  Does the Social Host Ordinance give authorities permission to enter private property without permission?
A:  This ordinance does not allow authorities to come on private property without permission.

For more about the Social Host Ordinance please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or