PORTLAND — If you are the parent of a teenager, then you probably have had lessons in “stuff.”
As in the stuff that occupies your child’s room.
Clothes — some clean, some dirty and some somewhere in between — shoes, posters of either sports stars and/or singers.
But what else may be lurking in your child’s room?
Wednesday night, as part of the annual open house, Portland High School officials are inviting parents to visit “a mock teen bedroom.”
Principal Kathryn M. Lawson said the program is intended to educate parents on “what to look for in your kid’s room.”
In particular, evidence of substance abuse, Lawson said.
The program is being presented in cooperation with the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals.
It is intended to be “an interactive drug education program for insights into current trends in youth substance abuse, drug paraphernalia and the concealment of drugs and alcohol.”
The open house enables parents to “come in and be their kids,” by moving through an average day and visiting their children’s classrooms (and meeting their teachers) in a compressed, two-hour session, Lawson said Monday.
The open house begins at 6:30 p.m., with welcoming remarks from Lawson in the school auditorium.
Parents will then proceed on their own, following their children’s schedule, she said.
During “study hall,” parents will be invited to go to the cafeteria, where they can enter the mock child’s room.
In addition to alerting parents about what to look for, the program also aims to offer information on “how to talk to youths about alcohol and drugs, and what to do if a problem is suspected,” Lawson said.
Like so many other cities and towns, Portland is not immune from substance abuse incidents.
In January, four high school students were sickened after vaping an unknown substance.
(Vaping is smoking using so-called “e-cigarettes.”)
“I think Portland has been pretty proactive about the dangers of vaping,” Lawson said. “We had a speaker come in last year to discuss the issue,” and there is anti-vaping education included in the school curriculum.
As just one measure of the spreading impact of vaping is having, dozens of people nationwide recently have suffered acute respiratory illnesses apparently brought on by vaping.
Five people have died since late August because of vaping-related illnesses, according to a report this weekend in The Washington Post.