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What is Second Chance?
Second Chance is a three-day educational program for Arlington middle and high school students who reside in and attend Arlington County Public Schools, or whose parents reside in Arlington County. It is not treatment or therapy. The program was created to help teens avoid using alcohol, drugs, and/or certain other substances. Teens showing signs of early substance use will benefit most from attending.
Why should a student attend Second Chance?
Students who are found to be under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and/or certain other substances may be diverted to Second Chance in lieu of school suspension by Arlington Public Schools or prosecution by Arlington County Juvenile Courts. Parents who are concerned about or see signs of early substance use can refer their teen, and teens can refer themselves. Participation in Second Chance is confidential.
How does Second Chance work?
Students attend a 3-day session, followed 6-8 weeks later with a booster session. Parents/guardians must attend a 3-hour session after the initial student session and, later, the booster session with their student. Attendance at all sessions is required for successful completion.
During their 3-day program, students learn how substance use affects their physical and mental health, their family and the community, as well as possible consequences for further involvement. They also learn how stress, coping skills, and peer pressure intersect with drug/alcohol use; they practice refusal skills; and they develop an action plan to help make healthy choices and avoid future substance use.
Parents/guardians learn how to communicate more effectively with their teen and set clear limits and expectations for their behavior.
How was Second Chance created?
Second Chance is a collaborative community effort that includes students, parents/guardians, school administrators, police, the juvenile justice system, and non-profit partners. It is the result of widespread community support stemming from the Partnership for a Healthier Arlington, a ten-year (2008-2017) NACCHO project, and based on data from the 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey that showed Arlington teens were drinking alcohol in amounts greater than neighboring jurisdictions and state averages. Program developers conducted myriad focus groups, met with other jurisdictions, and engaged students and parents, counselors, teachers and school officials, the juvenile justice system, public health and public safety officials, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and non-profits.