Louisa schools to host Hidden in Plain Sight, a program to help parents identify risky behavior

If you were to walk into your child’s bedroom today, would you know how to identify signs of potential high-risk behaviors?

Whether it’s something that looks like an everyday USB device or an item that looks like a typical marker, there are products and devices that young people can buy online and have delivered straight to their home that can hide signs of risky behaviors.

Louisa County Public Schools is hosting “Hidden in Plain Sight,” a program of the Culpeper Police Department, at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the high school to educate parents, grandparents and others who care for children.

Superintendent Doug Straley said that Louisa Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Deborah Tinsley had reached out to him about the program and told him that she had heard good things about it. He brought it up to the LCPS Safe Schools Task Force and members viewed a portion of the program and supported bringing it to Louisa County.

“We’re excited to bring this opportunity to our parents at no cost,” Straley said.

On Tuesday night, presenters will recreate a typical teenager’s bedroom. Attendees will have half an hour at the start of the program to “snoop” through the room to find items that could indicate risky behavior.

Afterward, each prop will be described, along with an explanation for how that particular item could be a tool for risky behavior. The program will include up to date statistics and items to watch for in the home.

“I think with the internet so readily available and the technology so readily available, things that are dangerous for our kids are so much easier for our kids to get,” Straley said.  “It’s important or us to stay on top of it. As a parent, and as a superintendent, I think it’s really important.”

Master Police Officer Mike Grant and Lt. Ashley Banks of the Culpeper Police Department will also speak about alcohol, drugs, erotic behavior, eating disorders, suicide and other topics.

“Kids are very creative,” Grant said. “We cover a little bit of everything in our presentation.”

Daphne MacDougall, a member of the school division’s Safe Schools Task Force, viewed some of the program and is eager to bring it to parents in Louisa.

“Being the mother of a high-schooler and two middle-schoolers, I immediately saw its value. I really hope a lot of families will join us,” she said. “I think I was surprised at how readily available these things are to our kids.”

The preventive program is designed primarily for adults, Grant said, because he doesn’t want to teach young people something they may not already know.

To make it easier for families to attend, free dinner and child care will be available. Dinner and tours of the bedroom start at 5:30 p.m. at the high school and the hour-long presentation will begin at around 6 p.m.

“If we just help one person, we’ve accomplished what we try to do,” Grant said.

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