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6.  Jay County Archival Indicators of Risk

A child’s view of normal is critically impacted by the child’s environment: the sights, sounds, tastes, textures, and smells of the child’s world:  “Infants participate, from birth on, in sociocultural activities that are committed to cultural goals and values . . .” (Keller, et al. 2004) If the child grows up seeing drugs and drug use portrayed in a positive manner on local billboards and local television and modeled at home and elsewhere in the child’s community, the presence of drugs (and hence potential availability) and use of drugs easily becomes the child’s norm.  In this circumstance logic suggests it would be “norm-al” for the child to have the expectation that later in life he or she, too, for better or worse, may use drugs.  As success tends to beget success, and good parenting practices tend to be replicated by the children raised in that environment, so unfortunately, those who are abused are more likely to become abusers, and those raised in a climate of drug use are more likely to become users.  

Community Risk Factor:  Community Laws/Norms

The smell of cigarettes, the feel of icy beer bottles and of delicate wine glasses, song lyrics glamorizing drug use, and the over-use of over-the-counter or prescription medications to eliminate every small discomfort creates a notion of normal that impacts the child’s expectations of human behavior, including his or her own.   In some instances, it can be difficult to separate family norms and community norms.  Many factors contribute to the creation of community norms, including family traditions, public policies, and law enforcement practices.  In general, community norms will be the outcome of the beliefs and practices of all the community’s governmental, educational, social, religious, and business enterprises.

Drug use modeling by adults in a community creates an environment that is more hospitable and encouraging of drug use by youth.  This modeling takes place within and outside of the home.  Since the statistics don’t separate adults from family settings from other adults, we have included adult behaviors with regard to drugs as a community indicator and simply mention it again in the context of family indicators.  Still, clearly, this information from a community has strong implications for family settings as well, since one could assume that a significant number of those adults live in family settings.   Each County Profile contains several maps and tables comparing the block groups in a county for the counts and percents of adults who smoke cigarettes or cigars, drink alcohol, or gamble.  Where possible, indicator data is given in terms of per household amounts.

Heide Keller, et al., “The Bio-Culture of Parenting: Evidence from Five Cultural

Communities,” Parenting: Science and Practice 4/1 (2004):25-50.

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