Pubdate: Sun,  4 Nov 2001
Source: Ogdensburg Journal/Advance News (NY)
Copyright: 2001 St. Lawrence County Newspapers Corp
Contact: Accepts LTEs by mail only!
Author:  Sue Ellen Mcadam
Note: Accepts LTEs by mail only! Must be signed with phone number.


One Lisbon resident is wondering why area school districts plan to take 
part in a survey next month to figure out how many Students use drugs or 
alcohol and why, when the individual school results won't be released to 
the communities with suspected abuse problems.

Larry Seguin says that the only purpose that the surveys serve is for 
agencies like the Seaway Valley Council for Alcohol and Substance Abuse 
Prevention, Inc., which is based in Canton, to stay in business and keep 
school district residents paying money out for studies and programs that 
are ineffective in preventing teens from using drugs or alcohol.

One such ineffective program, he said, is Drug Abuse Resistance Education 
(D.A.R.E.).  He said a D.A.R.E. officer comes into a school district and 
tells fifth and sixth graders about the effects of drug and alcohol 
abuse.  Some of the information is correct, and some is not, he said.

For example, students are told that Smoking marijuana is addictive. They 
are told that using heroin or cocaine is addictive.  Then, when a student 
experiments and smokes marijuana and doesn't become addicted, he figures 
that what he was told by the D.A.R.E. officer was a lie. When the teen 
tries cocaine, and then uses it over and over again, he becomes addicted.

The students need to be told the truth up front, argues Seguin.  No matter 
how much money is spent on surveys or on drug use prevention, no community 
will ever be 100 percent drug free, he argued.

The districts should bow out of the survey since the results will be 
county-wide and will not be reflective of individual schools.  How will 
Lisbon's or Ogdensburg's community know a drug or alcohol problem exists 
when the entire county is lumped together in this survey, he asked.

Seguin believes there is a  low number of students who regularly use drugs 
or alcohol.  He believes that the whole issue is being "overplayed."

He said that the schools have a revised dress code and school policy that 
includes a section that states students can be strip searched.

"Columbine started things off, but violence is its lowest point now. Many 
students die in car crashes.  Students need to be kept safe, but I'm not so 
sure that all the kids should be penalized for the low percentage of 
students using drugs.  It's hurting our educational system.  Teachers 
should be spending more time educating instead of watching the kids," He 

Oftentimes the results of surveys are misleading, especially when all of 
the pertinent information is not included, he said.

For example, students at Lisbon Central School (LCS) took part in a 
previous survey that examined student drug and alcohol usage.  A flyer was 
taped to the wall in the school showing the results, he recalled.

A copy of the flyer read as follows: "According to a recent LCS Poll: 70 
percent of LCS students smoke cigarettes socially; 30 percent of LCS 
students are addicted to nicotine; 80 percent of LCS students Drink alcohol 
socially; 85 percent of LCS students have tried a drug, with marijuana 
being the most popular; 45 percent of LCS students use drugs daily.  The 
Student Assistant Counselor is available every Wednesday in room 155."

These posted results would make the average school visitor think that the 
school has a serious drug and alcohol problem.  When in fact, only 20 
students took the  survey, said Seguin.

After speaking with former School Superintendent Wayne Chesbrough about the 
survey and the posted results, Seguin said that he asked the superintendent 
to add a note on the bottom of the flyer, that stated, "This is the result 
of 20 kids.  Chesbrough took them (surveys) down," said Seguin.

Seguin believes the drug problem in the schools "is not as much as it is 
played up to be.  It's being overplayed because of money."

The results of the survey create an opportunity to compete for Safe and 
Drug Free grant funding by being able to document the needs for the 
programs.  "The government is giving money to find drug problems. One feeds 
the other," said Seguin.

If the school districts in the county go ahead and have their students 
participate in the survey, then it shouldn't be done like in Lisbon, he 
said.  "It should not be monitored by a group that will gain from it.  It 
should give more specific results, the grades, the schools, the 
results.  Could the questionnaire be taken two ways?" he asked.

"You can't keep the schools 100 percent drug free...Treating kids as 
criminals for a handful...Spending billions of dollars on a drug war that 
hasn't accomplished anything," he stated.

A total of 16 schools out of the county's 18 districts are participating in 
the "Communities that Care" survey.  Harrisville students have already 
taken it; Hammond Central has declined, saying that the school is too 
small.  Students in grades 6,8,10,and 12 will take the survey during the 
second week in November.  Permission slips will be sent home before hand.

The surveys will be mailed to the Developmental Research and Programs (DEP) 
office in Seattle, Wash.  The results should be known in mid-to-late January.

The Seaway Valley Council believes that the "Communities That Care" youth 
survey is a fair way to help school districts find out why some students 
use illegal drugs, why others drop out of school, what causes teenage 
pregnancy and why some youths commit violent and delinquent acts.

The survey is being provided at no cost to the districts as a result of the 
cooperation between the Seaway Valley Council for Alcohol and Substance 
Abuse Prevention, Inc., St. Lawrence-Lewis Counties BOCES, the St. Lawrence 
County Public Health Department, and the World Enforcement Board(WEB).
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