Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2001
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2001 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Terry Dailey


Re: "Drug war must reach neighborhoods," Viewpoints, March 31.

While proficient at analyzing the problems schools, parents and
governments are having solving the nation's drug problem, Debra Decker's
solutions are aimed at everyone but the drug users, their parents and
their family dynamic.

She paints a biased picture of Marsh Middle School. Although she singled
it out as an example, none of her statistics point to middle school
children specifically, quoting, "More than half of American youths have
tried an illegal drug before they finish high school" and "the highest
rates of regular drug use can be found among 18- to 25-year-olds."

Trying drugs and being an habitual user are very different scenarios. It
is one thing to react to peer pressure and take a puff of marijuana at a
party and quite another to be in such a low mental state as to rely on
habitual drug use as a crutch.

While many possible answers are given, she misses the obvious. Where was
the mother and/or father of the 13-year-old girl when she was getting
into the drug pusher's car? The mother, rather than being angry at the
school's lack of enforcement, should be angry at herself for not knowing
her child's whereabouts. Do the parents have open communication with
their child? Is the child supervised after school? Have any family
members been to drug/alcohol awareness programs at the school? Is the
child depressed/teased/isolated/pressured by peers? Is she abused? Are
her parents drug users? Are the parents divorced? Are her grades falling
and is she losing interest in school or hanging out with a different
group of friends? All of these increase the risk of drug abuse.

Yes, a small portion of youth habitually abuse drugs. But, until we do
our job as parents, and provide alternatives to drugs for our children
through sports, school clubs, after-school activities, volunteer work or
simply sitting down with our children and communicating with them, the
problem will not go away. Marsh Middle School is very proactive in its
fight against drugs, as are most of our local, state and federal
institutions. However, the solution doesn't come from the government or
the police or even the school system; it starts at home.

Terry Dailey, PTA president, Marsh Middle School, Dallas
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