If you could have a super power, what would it be? X-ray vision? Bending steel? You may not have realized it, but you’ve likely used a super power during the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to protecting young people from the harms of substance use, our super powers are the key to combatting increased risk factors such as social isolation. 

In the 1990s, researchers at the University of Washington outlined factors that impact potentially harmful behaviors (such as substance abuse, delinquency, violence, and school dropout) among adolescents. They are referred to as risk and protective factors. The COVID-19 pandemic presents our communities with a new variety of risk factors for youth substance use over which we have little control. The good news is that we can amplify and strengthen protective factors that will act as a super hero shield against these risk factors.

Maybe you’ve even seen some super powers in action in recent weeks? Neighbors connecting and helping each other is a powerful protective factor. Families who are finding positive and creative ways to make the most of their time together at home is another amazing super power. Teens themselves are displaying their inner super heroes by reaching out and staying in touch with their peers through apps like HouseParty or Zoom. Don’t be fooled by the every-day appearance of these protective factors – especially when combined together, they pack a powerful punch!

The Shared Future Coalition invites you to learn more about the protective factors. Grab your cape and join us by increasing and celebrating protective factors in the coming weeks and months. We can foster a safe, healthy, and prosperous community – together! To learn more go to: www.sharedfuturecoalition.org/covid19main.

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