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It's everyone's business to protect our children
In this week's Graphic, you'll find the special edition of "Protecting Our Children," a publication we print annually that contains information about the issues in today's society that threaten our children's innocence.

Inside the publication, you'll find information about internet safety and how to keep an eye on your child's activities online; how to get educated about gang activity; online child predators and the pressures of alcohol and drug use among teens. We've even listed in this publication some of the jargon teens use online or when talking about certain drugs, along with websites that give an even more detailed list.

Drug use is becoming an epidemic in our country. We hear daily about our nation's adolescents becoming hooked on drugs such as methamphetamine and even using inhalants such as glue, hair spray, paint thinners and whipped cream dispensers to get high.

Drugs have always been dangerous, but today's drug combinations are deadly and so addictive, it's extremely hard to overcome the habit once it's begun.

If you don't think your child is at risk for any of the things mentioned in this week's special edition, you're in denial.

Every child is at risk. It's up to everyone in that child's life to steadily educate and talk to him or her about the things that can send them into ruin, whether it's the parent, a teacher, close relative, Sunday school teacher or a close friend of the family. And yes, sometimes we can do all the right things and a child still succumbs to the pressures, getting hooked on drugs or getting caught in a horrific situation such as falling victim to an online predator.

But the bottom line is we all have to try to thwart the harmful things by becoming knowledgeable and talking openly with children and teens.

Our Sheriff's Department does a fantastic job of educating our youth about the dangers of drug use through its D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Prevention Education) program. This program takes deputies into fifth-grade classrooms talking to more than 1,000 students, here in Nash County, each year about the dangers of drugs.

The Nashville Police Department and the Nash County Sheriff's Department both have open doors for parents or guardians who need help in becoming educated about things such as drug and gang prevention.

Don't hesitate to learn about the warning signs that your child could be in trouble. Ask questions, learn what to watch for and pay attention. My hope is that none of you will ever have to deal with any of these issues, but the reality is, some of you will.

Another approach we all can take against these battles, on a much broader scale, is to make sure our legislators hear our voice of discontent about things such as sometimes allowing drug dealers to get off the hook so easily. There needs to be tougher laws to keep drugs out of our country.

Let them know we want child predators to pay the consequences for their crimes and that we're paying attention.

Our voice needs to be heard, both by the child and the government.

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