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Community forum to tackle hot-button issues involving today's teens

POSTED: August 14, 2014 2:49 p.m.

A community forum hosted by Winder-Barrow High Principal Al Darby, Barrow Sheriff Jud Smith and Foundations For Living promises to give teenagers and their parents plenty to discuss.

Sande Bailey, founder of Foundations For Living, a non-profit service organization based in Jackson County, originally put on "Straight Talk, No Chaser" in Jackson County earlier in the year. Due to that forum’s success, she said, she’s bringing it to Barrow.

"It’s about educating, No. 1, the parents," Bailey said. "Parenting skills need improvement.

"And teens need to know what they’re doing could impact them in the future."

Michelle Gilreath, who works with SouthState Bank and has also partnered with Bailey to put on the forum, noted that as a parent herself the goal is to educate her child in many of the modern pitfalls that can occur.

"Our children our are future," she said. "We’ve got to educate them."

And part of the process is educating the parents as to what kind of trouble teens can get into these days.

Topics of the forum, which starts at
7 p.m. Thursday at Winder-Barrow High, include: "Sexting," "Unhealthy Teen Dating" and "Parents Being PARENTS, Not Friends."

Piedmont District Attorney Brad Smith will even be present to speak and give teenagers and their parents advice on how to avoid ending up with a criminal record, which can impact someone’s life for decades.

In short, it’s an opportunity for the community to open the lines of communication and start those conversations between parents and their children which could make a big difference.

"It’s just bringing together community resources in a manner in which to bring together families and show them the pitfalls, and talk candidly about things," Gilreath said. "It’s also about getting the word out in a profound manner. That’s why the DA is involved, kids don’t understand that what they do now can affect their future."

Representatives present at the forum will include the Barrow Health Department, law enforcement and drug abuse assistance organizations.

Speakers include Jud Smith, Brad Smith, Adrian Brown, Gwinnett Judge Rodney Harris and Bailey.

Doors open an hour early at 6 p.m., the event is free and snacks will be available. An award will also be presented to a teen for making a positive impact.



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