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Exhibit educates parents, caregivers on signs of abuse

Farmington Middle School Counselor Tess Moore looks over information from the organization Addiction is Real about the "Hidden in Plain View" interactive exhibit scheduled for the school on Wednesday. The exhibit, open for parents and caregivers, educates on items found in a teenager's room that may be signs of substance abuse.

Shawnna Robinson, Daily Journal

A special informative event for parents and caregivers is taking place at a local middle school.

Farmington Middle School is hosting an interactive event on Wednesday called “Hidden in Plain View” presented by the group Addiction is Real.

Counselor Tess Moore said the event features a typical teenager’s bedroom with 70 items hidden in the room. Those items, Moore said, are indicators of a child’s use of drugs.

Those who attend are given a clipboard and asked to identify anything in the room that may signify substance abuse.

Moore said the exhibit shows those everyday items that, upon closer look, can be used to hide the signs of drug abuse.

One example she gives are a pair of flip flops located at the foot of the bed. At first glance, the footwear looks insignificant — just a pair of shoes casually tossed off at the end of the day.

“When you look at them, they’re just sitting at the foot of the bed like any other kid would have,” she said. “When you pick one up, there’s a slit on the top of the sole with a pocket cut out that would be a place to put pills or a small bag of whatever it is they are using.”

Once a list is completed, the participant is then given a list showing those 70 items found in the display – indicators of possible drug and alcohol abuse.

She became familiar with the exhibit during a conference with the Jefferson County School Counselors Association of which she is a member — and last year was awarded the Jefferson County School Counselor Association "Counselor of the Year" award on Feb. 10, 2017 at the association’s annual meeting, only later to receive the state-wide honor.

The exhibit, Moore said, was eye-opening for this educator who also teaches a course at Mineral Area College. It is designed for parents and community members to participate.

The exhibit is open from 3 to 5 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday — an early-out day for the district. Presentations take place at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. for each event. The school is located at 506 S. Fleming St.

Addiction is Real, according to the website, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2015 by a group of concerned parents based in St. Louis whose sole mission is to educate parents about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and provide them the tools to take a more proactive approach in having these discussions with their child.

Moore said one of the speakers during the presentation is the mother of a victim of substance abuse.

“It affects all of us,” she said. “It’s not just an isolated group. There is no socioeconomic status that drug abuse covers — it could be anyone.

"If we can stop it ... if we can make parents aware and teachers aware of the dangers that are there. This is about awareness and trying to get people to not be using drugs, to find better things to do with their time."

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or


Farmington Press Managing Editor

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