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Harford urges families to talk about drugs, alcohol on 'Night of Conversation' Wednesday

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Harford County parents and caregivers are invited to "feed awareness" by having dinner with their families and talking to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol during the first "Night of Conversation" for families with children in pre-school through high school.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Harford County parents and caregivers are invited to "feed awareness" by having dinner with their families and talking to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol during the first "Night of Conversation" for families with children in pre-school through high school.

Night of Conversation is sponsored by Harford County government in partnership with Harford County's public schools, libraries, sheriff's office, health department and participating restaurants and grocery stores.

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To aid the family discussions, conversation cards created by the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy have been handed out at supermarkets and other locations over the past few weeks. The cards provide tips for parents including age-appropriate conversation starters.

Parents are also encouraged to help their kids practice refusal skills and plan how to escape peer-pressure situations. Participants in the Night of Conversation can take a short survey about their experiences and enter to win a $250 Visa gift card, according to a County government news release.

The Night of Conversation was also highlighted in a recent series of anti-heroin forums sponsored by the county, public school system, sheriff's office and health department.

"Research shows that children who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to abuse drugs and drink alcohol," County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. "Our first annual Night of Conversation creates a safe time for kids to come forward and ask questions. Most importantly, we want parents to help their children plan and practice what to do and say when they are offered drugs."

Harford County Public Schools distributed a magnetized version of the conversation cards, ideal for posting on the family refrigerator. School officials are also encouraging parents and caregivers to provide their feedback through the survey.

"We begin speaking with students in pre-kindergarten about making good and safe decisions," Barbara Canavan, superintendent of Harford County Public Schools, states in the county news release. "As students enter middle and high school, the decisions become more difficult. It is crucial that these dialogues take place not only in the schools, but at home, too. These discussions are key to ensuring that from a very young age, our students know that the adults around them care and will listen."

Klein's ShopRite and Giant grocery stores and participating restaurants including Enotria, Pat's Pizzeria (Bel Air, Edgewood, and Havre de Grace locations), Fox & Fern, Stone's Cove KitBar, Mountain Branch Grille & Pub, Sunny Day Café, Primavera Italian Restaurant, Riverside Pub & Grille, IHOP Bel Air, and Pizza Hut have begun distributing over 70,000 conversation cards and promoting the Night of Conversation to patrons, with balloons, signage, and other fanfare.

"Medical studies have found that regular family meals at home promote 'brain power,' positive attitudes and safe behaviors in our kids," said Howard Klein of Klein's Family Markets/ShopRite of Maryland. "We're all about food and family, so offering our stores as a vehicle for promoting November 16 as a 'Night of Conversation' is a natural for both the ShopRite brand and Klein's Family Markets. More than 60,000 tip cards will be distributed between now and the end of November promoting dinner table conversations with our kids on Nov. 16 about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse."

For expert advice and information, Harford County's Office on Drug Control Policy staff will be on hand Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Families may call 410-638-3333 anonymously or privately message the experts via Facebook on the Harford County Office of Drug Control Facebook page.

The Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy will also hold a presentation and large group discussion from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday for members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harford County, Edgewood Unit.

To request conversation cards, find links to take the survey, or learn more about the Night of Conversation please visit www.harfordcountymd.gov/nightofconversation or contact the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy at 410-638-3333.

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