by: Sarah Rosario Updated:
Law enforcement agencies in Iredell County are working with the school district to combat what they're calling a growing problem.
They say drug and alcohol abuse among teens is on the rise.
Eyewitness News spoke to one parent who is using his story to help with the effort.
Michael Duni says the teenagers who went to school with his son almost nine years ago might not remember that he died of alcohol poisoning. Michael David Duni II was a junior at North Mecklenburg High School, just 16 years old. Since his death, Duni's father has been using his son's story with the hopes that students today will learn from it.
"It was a way I could take something that was very bad and turn it into something good. To take a tragedy for our family and maybe help prevent it in another family," he said.
Duni agreed to be a guest speaker for Iredell-Statesville Schools as part of an effort to stop drug and alcohol abuse.
In the past two years, the district has reported a 21 percent increase in controlled substances or alcohol found on school grounds. According to the Iredell County Sheriff's Office, during the 2012-13 school year, 102 instances were reported. The year before, there were 84 instances.
The school district is hosting five town hall meetings at each high school to raise awareness about the consequences of what can happen on weekends and after school. ISS has been hosting the town hall meetings for the past three years.
"We have policemen there who can talk about what are the legal consequences they can face, and we want parents and students to know those, too," said Becky Rader, program coordinator.
School leaders say they're not just concerned about alcohol but drug abuse, too. Law enforcement agencies are also working with the schools to stop what's known as "pharm parties," where students take a variety of pills.
"They take it, dump it in a bowl, pick out what looks pretty," said Rader.
To eliminate access to prescriptions, officers are asking parents keep track of their prescriptions and to drop off unused ones. Prescriptions can be dropped off at any police station in the county with no questions asked.
Schools leaders are hoping the town hall meetings will makes kids think about the long-term outcomes of their actions.
"I try to bring it back and say, 'What would it be like if you never came home or your sister never came home?' You know, 'What would that do to your family? What would that do to your mom and dad?" said Duni.
A workshop is being held Monday night at Mooresville High School to teach parents how to identify signs of abuse. It's part of another effort called The Bedroom Project at MHS Auditorium, 659 E. Center Ave., Mooresville. It starts at 6 p.m. and will last until 8 p.m.
For a list of all the ISS town hall meetings, head to its website.