I am writing this opinion piece, in reference to the article on Poverty and Mobility and their ties to dropout rates which was published on Sunday, February 26th, 2012 by Carrie Coppernoll in the Oklahoman. I am a prevention specialist at Eagle Ridge Institute serving the Metro Oklahoma City Area. Our focus is to assess risk and protective factors that impact community behaviors and outcomes, one being school drop-outs.
Carrie hit the nail right on the head when she addressed Poverty and Mobility as affecting school dropout rates. However, there are so many risk factors that impact school drop-outs and are manifested by mobility and poverty. Poverty and mobility also leads to self-medication (eg. underage alcohol use, adult binge drinking, and misuse of legal prescription drugs). If these factors are present in our homes and communities, would school be one of your priorities? Our children and youth have their whole lives ahead of them. Our children and youth can see poverty, mobility, affluence, encouragement and stability. These factors make up the environment our youth find themselves in and they impact their future greatly. The important part is determining why we have such huge differences in these environments, especially considering our expectations for our youth to become productive and contributing citizens. Poverty and mobility is not the only connection to school drop-outs. We all realize this; however, we need to make greater efforts at addressing and changing the factors that fuel both poverty and the mobility issues in our society. In closing, I mentioned self-medication as a coping mechanism for both poverty and mobility. We know it impacts school drop-outs in the community setting. Can we see the increase in underage drinking, adult binge drinking and the misuse of prescription drugs being connected to poverty and mobility? You may not see this connection, but I see it every day, and I am here to help our communities see those same indicators.
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Eagle Ridge Institute
601 NE 63rd Street
OKC, OK. 73105