With trends always changing, parents may be out of the loop with what their teen is saying or is involved in, possibly missing warning signs of unsafe behavior. The Sully District of the Fairfax County Police Department created an event solely for parents or guardians to learn about possible dangerous behaviors their teens may be displaying.
Police Officer First Class Meg Hawkins is a community outreach officer in the FCPD and is the lead instructor for the program, called Hidden in Plain Sight. “Hidden in Plain Sight is a community awareness program to educate parents on signs of risky behavior,” said Hawkins. “The program is a hands-on learning experience that allows parents to experience current trends which could be signs of risky behavior.”
The Sully District station is hosting the event, and any parent or guardian over the age of 18 is allowed to attend July 21 at 7 p.m. at 4900 Stonecroft Blvd. Law enforcement officers run the event and will explain and show possible “red flag” items to parents. “This presentation is going to open their eyes to signs of risky behaviors such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco use, vaping, over the counter medicines, mental health and more,” said Hawkins.
The program begins with a setup of a teenager’s bedroom which includes close to 100 “red flags” indicating a teen may be involved in unsafe activities. “Parents will be able to physically touch ‘red flag’ items instead of just seeing them on television or the internet,” said Hawkins. “They will learn about trends in our county and are able to ask questions directly to police officers.”
After being able to physically touch and learn about “red flags” which may be in their children’s room, parents will listen to an educational portion that includes a PowerPoint presentation detailing the props that the room contained and how they are indicative of dangerous behavior. The presentation will contain up-to-date statistics and local trends about unsafe activities teens are involved in. The law enforcement officers will also share their experiences in the community identifying risks and working with teens.
The presentation also includes how parents can talk to their children about risky behaviors. “We discuss having open conversations with children about risky behaviors if any ‘red flags’ are found,” said Hawkins. “It can be challenging but it will positively impact the rest of the teens life and help build a solid relationship with your teen.”
While Hawkins and her team members Master Police Officer Reanna Jacobson and MPO Carolyn Beyer are looking forward to putting on the Hidden in Plain Sight event, they are also available to put on similar presentations around the county. “If anyone would like to set up a special presentation for their PTA, club or group, they can email me directly at Megan.Hawkins@fairfaxcounty.gov,” said Hawkins.
Registration is required for the Hidden in Plain Sight presentation July 21, and attendees must be over the age of 18. The event is meant for parents and guardians only.
To learn more and sign up for the Hidden in Plain Sight event July 21: http://bit.ly/hips072121