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'Hidden in Plain Sight' Exhibit Shows Webster County Residents the Dangers of Drug Use

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Parents across the country are facing the harsh reality that kids are being introduced to drugs at an earlier age than they ever imagined, so Webster County officials are on a mission to expose those drugs.

"Hidden in Plain Sight" is an interactive pilot program, showcasing a mock bedroom with a teenager's belongings, including more than 100 items known to suggest risky behavior.

"I have a child this year that went out to play in the yard and picked up a pop bottle, and it blew up in his face. He was very badly burned," said Karen Leslie, a first-grade teacher at Glade Elementary.

"Webster County has a severe drug problem. We're getting meth labs daily. It tends to start with the younger peer groups," said Sergeant Jack Cutlip of the Webster County Sheriff's Department.

So the Webster County Prevention Partnership decided it was time to take action on Monday.

"What we've done is set up a mock bedroom, where we've displayed different possible indicators of risky behaviors," said Todd Farrow of the Webster County Prevention Partnership. "So the parents and caregivers can see those things so they know what they look like and give them an opportunity to ask questions to folks who see those things every day. "These guys are out in the trenches every day, looking at this stuff, seeing these things..."

Officials from the prevention partnership created the mock bedroom with the help of local law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney's office.
"Habitual drug users, folks whose drug habits have led to crime, it starts when they're young," said Dara Acord, assistant prosecuting attorney.

Officials strategically chose the items to stress the harsh reality that these "users" could be those we least suspect.

"So we made a point to put in a letterman's jacket. There's a Bible in the corner, various things that normal teenagers do, but they can still be doing those other things too," said Samantha Mollohan of the Webster County Prevention Partnership.

"We are seeing, at young ages, that children come to school with drugs. I, all of us, not just me, go home and cry at night over things we can't control and we can't help. We need to be more aware of what this is," said Leslie.
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