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Parents: Do you know what your children are doing?

Jennifer Dorsett, a presenter for the Hidden in Plain Sight program, shows how a water bottle has been altered to provide hidden storage space.
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
Jennifer Dorsett, a presenter for the Hidden in Plain Sight program, shows how a water bottle has been altered to provide hidden storage space.

The Spokane Regional Health District and several partners are sponsoring conversations with parents this week.

Jennifer Dorsett wants to have conversations with parents this week in Spokane.

Dorsett is the facilitator for the Hidden in Plain Sight training program, developed in conjunction with community partners, including the Spokane Regional Health District. Her talks with parents, including one tonight at University High School, are all about the things kids are doing that parents don’t know about.

“What are we actually seeing in schools? Oftentimes parents don’t get a newsletter about what kind of violations we’re seeing or what kinds of problems we’re having in the bathrooms or that kind of thing," Dorsett said.

"This is kind of an opportunity for parents to ask those hard questions, but also just learn in general, like, what’s trending with kids? Because, and here’s the big piece, if you don’t know what’s trending with kids, how do you have great conversations with them about it?” she said.

One of those trends, she says, is alcohol vaping.

“It’s a complex process that is hard to describe over the radio. It’s more of a visual thing, but I do show people how it works and kind of what it looks like and what are those negative effects around it," Dorsett said.

She pulls out a ziploc bag that contains vape pens made to look like other things. She has a water bottle with a false bottom where kids can hide things they don’t want their parents to find.

Dorsett preaches that knowledge is a good thing, both for parents and their children. For example, she says parents should learn about the social media outlets their children use, such as Snapchat.

“Snapchat is one of our widely-used social media outlets right now for drugs and sex trafficking," she said.

Dorsett says parents should try to be pro-active where they can, especially when buying phones for their children.

“You have to actually sit down and say, ‘Here’s my concerns around the phone. Here’s my expectations of you around the phone. Here’s my hope that nothing bad happens with it.’ That hope and concern message is really important, but having things in place like that, like contracts with your kids, where they can actually see what your expectations are," she said.

Dorsett’s takeaway message to parents is don’t freak out about this stuff, stay positive when you can.

“Because the facts are most kids don’t use drugs. If we hear the kids saying ‘All the kids are doing it,’ or ‘All my friends are doing it,’ it’s really our opportunity to correct that and say, actually, no," she said.

Jennifer Dorsett will lead Hidden in Plain Sight public workshops Monday at 5:30 at University High School, Tuesday at 5:30 at Westwood Middle School in the south valley, and Wednesdayat 5:30 at the Educational Service District 101 Center on the South Hill. You need to register to attend, either at the health district website or at the door.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.