Parents unsure if their teens are using drugs can turn over bedsheets and rifle through drawers for telltale signs this month at University Place.
“Hidden in Plain Sight,” an interactive exhibit at the mall through Dec. 17, is an effort to teach adults about substance abuse trends, signs and symptoms. Those under 18 can only get in if they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian, organizers said.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Orange County Schools, Carrboro Police Department, Chapel Hill Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth, Campus Community Coalition to Address High Risk Drinking, and Orange County Emergency Services.
“This is one of the most fun parent education events we’ve ever done,” said Linda Karcher, Carrboro High School student assistance program counselor. “We’re trying to get creative, because folks are busy. We figured this is a great way to educate them, but they don’t have to come out to a school event.”
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Parents concerned about violating their child’s privacy should remember who pays the bills, said Jim Wise, Chapel Hill High School student assistance program specialist.
“Privacy is a privilege, not a right,” he said.
“We don’t want them to be distrustful, but if they are at a point where they’re concerned, we want them to know what should I be looking for, and if I found this, how high should my level of concern be,” Wise said. “We have some very bright and creative students – are they using their power for productive purposes or for less-productive purposes?”
Some things in the exhibit are obvious – a pipe crafted from aluminum foil or baggies filled with “marijuana.” Others, not so much, such as drug storage containers masked to look like everyday items and candy used to make alcoholic drinks, or “sizzup.”
It’s great for parents to come in and learn about things they may take for granted, Carrboro Police Officer Ron Trombley said.
“The big thing is hopefully it starts a dialogue between parents and their kids, and you can have this talk before something happens,” he said.
Pittsboro resident Lisa Pollard was visiting the mall when she saw a crowd gathered for the exhibit. There’s a lot going on in this room, she said, picking up a bottle of Listerine to see how it smelled.
“It’s really cool,” Pollard said about the exhibit. “It’s amazing how many places you can hide things.”
In Plain Sight
The interactive drug and alcohol exhibit, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” opened Saturday at University Place (formerly University Mall), located at 201 S. Estes Drive in Chapel Hill.
The exhibit is open:
▪ Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 7-9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 to 7 p.m.
▪ Saturday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
▪ Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 14-16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 3 to 7 p.m.
▪ Saturday, Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Some tips for better parenting and dealing with teen issues:
▪ Communicate often and early, and listen to your kids
▪ Know where your kids are and what they are doing; ask questions and have them check in regularly
▪ Know their friends’ names, where they live and their interests
▪ Know their friends’ parents
▪ Check with parents first before allowing teen sleepovers and campouts
▪ Have fun together as a family
▪ Eat breakfast or dinner together
▪ Think twice about mentioning your own experiences with drugs or alcohol
▪ Parents and guardians should present a united front about rules and consequences
▪ Address drug, alcohol or tobacco use immediately