Q:

My ninth-grader is doing well in school. However, a 10th-grader she knows has openly talked to her and others about partying and drinking. My daughter says it is common knowledge around school that this child hangs around with kids who take drugs and has taken every kind of drug she can get her hands on.

Her parents are acquaintances of mine. They say that she is not getting along with teachers, and they don't understand her. I don't know if they have any idea what is going on. How can I tell them to take a better look at their child? - Want To Help

A:

Your own daughter should be applauded for telling you about this other girl's behavior. Now, you must reinforce that she did the right thing by taking some action that will let the other girl's parents know that their daughter might have some very serious problems.

Parents whose children are involved in drugs and drinking often are in denial about their children having a problem, even though there is ample evidence. If you were to tell this girl's parents about their daughter's drug taking and drinking, it is quite possible that they would not believe you, and the girl would receive no help. Until something is done, however, to make it crystal clear that a problem exists, the girl's parents are not likely to take any action.

You need to call or go to the high school. Ask to talk to the person at the school or in the school district who works with students with drug and alcohol problems. If no one has this specific responsibility, ask to speak to the girl's counselor.

Letting the school handle this situation takes it away from being a parent-to-parent confrontation. School officials won't talk to the girl's parents unless an assessment documents that real problems exist. Some schools have counseling available for students with drug and alcohol problems. If not, parents will need to look to community resources.