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To The Editor:
I am writing in response to Brian Degen's In My View column in the October 18, 2012, Valley Reporter, “What about our kids?"
Degen quotes alarming statistics (taken from the 2011 Vermont High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey) about teen suicide, depression and drug and alcohol use, which leads him to ask our community to support a positive solution: namely, a teen center at the Flemer barn site.
I appreciate and respect Brian's concern and the proposal from Open Hearth, which he founded and chairs. I am not writing to minimize these critically important issues.
However, the column leads to the impression that the statistics from the 2011 Vermont High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey are uniquely a Harwood problem. This is not the case. The report is a statewide survey sponsored by the VT Departments of Health and Education. The report concludes that suicide, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are serious problems in all of our high schools across all of Vermont.
I ask that the cited statistics be used in context and that Harwood's image not be harmed as part of a campaign to build a community/youth center. Suicide, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are not just Harwood's problems. They are our problems as a community. With community involvement and support of Harwood – as well as increased community support of young people outside the school walls (i.e., like Hannah's House and Open Hearth are providing) – we can work together to reduce these high-risk behaviors.
Warren representative to Harwood School Board