The Juvenile Assessment Center of Lee County is once again offering free drug test kits to parents of Lee County youth in an effort to curtail juvenile substance abuse.
Research shows that, on average, it takes two years for parents to discover their child has a drug problem.
"Middle school is a time when many of our youth are exposed to drugs," JAC Manager Bill Naylor said. "But we've also seen youth at the JAC as young as elementary school age for possession of marijuana. Parents need to pay attention and monitor what their kids are doing."
A recent survey of Lee County youth indicates one-third of them have tried illicit drugs. The average age a Lee County youth first tries marijuana is 12.
Naylor said having a drug test kit at home sends the message that drug use is unacceptable and can be a strong deterrent against using drugs. Just as parents check their child's card report to verify how they are performing in school, drug testing at home can show a youth is successfully saying "no" to drugs.
If a youth does test positive for drugs, a family can begin to access services in the community before the problem becomes serious.
In addition to the drug test kit, parents will receive information regarding use of the kits as a drug prevention tool, ideas for talking to kids about drug use and warning signs of substance abuse.
Parents can pick up their free drug test kits anytime from the center at 2107 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fort Myers.
For information, parents can call the Juvenile Assessment Center at (239) 258-3450.