Assembly members of the 31st Legislative District Nick Chiaravalloti and Angela McKnight hosted their 2nd annual “night of conversation” with Jersey City youth at the Mary McCleod Bethune Center last night.
“There was a new law passed in 2016-17 legislative session which designated November 19th the Night of Conversation and the purpose is to really have teenagers come together and talk about alcohol and drug abuse,” Chiaravalloti told HCV.
“And to try and get a dialogue going amongst them because education is key to preventing that abuse.”
About fifteen or so high school and/college students participated in the event, along with a handful of community leaders, which saw a handful of teens work in groups to identify the problems associated with substance abuse.
“Some children undergo sexual assault and they have to face that for the rest of their lives … thinking it’s their fault. To keep themselves [stable], they take drugs as well,” stated Raveera Toqueer, a student at Infinity Institute in Jersey City.
“The media glamorizes it, that you should take alcohol, cigarettes, ‘it’s really cool and everything,’ and mental health – it also plays a big factor. Once you’re convinced mentally that it’s okay, you’ll continue to do it and won’t stop.”
In an interview, McKnight noted that she has recently introduced a bill to combat human trafficking, which is indirectly related to drug and alcohol use.
“Many children who are trafficked, they are given drugs, they are given alcohol, so that piece of legislation will definitely be a vehicle to help identify children that are in danger of human trafficking,” she said, adding that the bill is currently awaiting a committee vote.
Saddat Nazir, a student at McNair Academic High School, spoke about having a good support system and having passions in life to stay happy and healthy.
“I, myself, my team, we all had a good support system that allowed us to reach a point where we did not have to turn to artificial happiness. We did not return to a place where we needed instant gratification. We needed a point where we just wanted to take drugs to just make us happy temporarily, no,” he exclaimed.
“We wanted to make ourselves a lasting sort of happiness. That is a good support system where you confide in family and friends.”