Teen Services Get Boost In Houston

Local teen intervention agencies say Houston's spirit of cooperation is helping them in their efforts to prevent drug use, gang involvement and youth suicide. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Dozens of service providers have their hands full in the nation's fourth largest city, addressing the myriad of issues faced by young people in today's society. At a conference here in Houston called "Beyond the Wars: Drugs, Gangs and Teen Suicide", experts shared their ideas and treatment programs with their peers. Ray Andrews is the director of Houston Crackdown and helps coordinate and support teen initiatives.

"Kids today are facing an unbelievable amount of pressure, from the whole peer pressure thing to trying to please parents and other caregivers to walk a straight line, and they're constantly caught in the middle of this influx. Our role is to try to help them as best we can so that they can make the right choices ultimately. I think we're doing a good job, but we can do a better job."

Teen suicide rates have increased by more than 300-percent over the past 40 years, with an estimated 2700 youth suicide attempts everyday in the United States. Clark Flatt is the president and CEO of the Houston-based Jason Foundation, a provider of suicide prevention counseling.

"If we don't come together and share resources, times and talents and then coordinate our services you just can't be as effective and so these types of programs and conventions are of upmost importance of really utilizing and getting to the goals of what we're trying to do, and that's to provide programs and services for youth in the Houston area."

In Houston, as is the case across the nation, alcohol and drug abuse is traditionally one of the biggest challenges for young people. Stan Furce is the director of Houston's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program out of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He says by interacting with local teen service providers, he's able to get a head-start on slowing the impact of certain drugs.

"We do an analysis every year and do a drug threat assessment and based on that drug threat assessment we are able to do a strategy to combat whatever the threat is. By looking at what's happening in the street through organizations and meetings like this, we're able to really assess what is going on rather than just looking at it from up above and then down, we're looking at it from down up."

For a complete list of of local teen intervention resources, check our website, KUHF.org.

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