One in three Bexley students in grades 8, 10 and 12 reports drinking alcohol at least once a month. Fifteen percent of middle school and high school students say they use marijuana regularly. Thirty percent of 11th- and 12th-graders report binge drinking in the last month. These are the findings of a Franklin County Drug-Free School Consortium study, which also shows that these rates have remained consistent over the past decade or so.

One in three Bexley students in grades 8, 10 and 12 reports drinking alcohol at least once a month. Fifteen percent of middle school and high school students say they use marijuana regularly. Thirty percent of 11th- and 12th-graders report binge drinking in the last month. These are the findings of a Franklin County Drug-Free School Consortium study, which also shows that these rates have remained consistent over the past decade or so.

I have lived in our community for 18 years, working half of those in the Bexley City Schools and sending my two children through the school system here. Over those years, I have attended many a meeting on the topic of teen substance abuse, sometimes as a parent volunteer, other times as a staffer. I've heard speakers suggest various approaches to the problem.

Several times, I was in the audience as Superintendent Mike Johnson talked about Bexley's Developmental Assets survey results -- what our young people tell us about their experience of internal and external "assets," the building blocks that help them become healthy adults. "In an ideal world, communities would strive to ensure that all youth experience between 31 and 40 of the Developmental Assets," according to the organization responsible for the research.

Unfortunately, in Bexley in 2013, only 19 percent of surveyed students had 31 or more of the 40 assets.

Study after study showed the same thing: in this place with many advantages -- good schools, highly educated people, higher median income, safe neighborhoods -- our young people reported surprisingly few assets and plenty of risky behavior.

When my own children moved into high school, we lived through the parties and their friends' car wrecks. I heard the stories. I fretted. I dreaded a phone call late at night.

It was only last month that I experienced the faintest glimmer of hope for a solution to any of this.

Fulfilling a district commitment to removing students' non-academic barriers to success, Bexley recently hired Kimberly Brazwell, who now leads our Family and Civic Engagement Committee.

This group's October gathering produced my mini epiphany. Superintendent Johnson and concerned parents and faculty were sitting at the table, as usual. But this time, they were joined by Bexley's mayor, its police chief and the library director.

And Brazwell was talking about the issue of substance abuse as part of a bigger picture. "What does it mean to be 'well in every way'?" she asked us, pointing out that having to parent himself leads a 14-year-old to self-medicate, and that lacking boundaries and role models results in destructive behavior.

Yes, it was a messy meeting. Frankly disturbing conversation, lots of sticky notes -- and charts. Mayor Ben Kessler and I scribbled fast and furiously to record group members' comments.

I will spare you the details, but take my word for it. There was hope: "Wow, someone is here to work on this giant problem that hurts our kids; we are following a process; an action plan is forming."

In Brazwell, we have a leader who will pull together our wealth of resources and programs -- whose goal is "to strengthen protective factors and empower young people to make positive choices" and who says things like, "Students need to feel that they are supported and protected."

I encourage you to watch our progress in the coming months. Listen for talk of "B3" (Be a Better Bexley). Tune in to discussion about a new prevention curriculum for the elementary grades. Sign up for one of the Community Parenting Network gatherings at your neighbor's house.

This time, it feels like we just might move the needle.

Amy Thompson is the public information coordinator for the Bexley City Schools.