Under the Influence
The Town That Listened to Its Kids
Authored by Patty Jo Sawvel
The pleasant town of Kernersville, North Carolina, decided to take a peek at its teenage drug problem. Nestled in the heart of three large cities, this community was certain that its problem was not nearly as bad as the rest of the nation. Many adults believed that 10% of the high school students abused drugs.
However, when the hometown newspaper-the Kernersville News-surveyed 1,706 local teenagers, it was shocked to report that 92% of the respondents believed that “most of the students in my school use drugs.”
Stunned, the townspeople decided to stop waiting for the Government to do something and to tackle the problem for themselves. First, they took the teens out of the back seat and put them in the driver’s seat-airing their uncensored voices on the front pages of the newspaper.
Then, the Kernersville Police Department joined forces with the News and the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools. Together, they broke down walls from here to Washington, to give their students the leadership and life skills that transformed their community. What resulted was the grassroots non-profit Kernersville Cares for Kids and 20 student leaders that turned the town right-side up.
This book invites readers to become cub reporters and shadow the investigative journalist as she uncovers life-altering truths that changed a community.
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