Pubdate: Wed, 23 Oct 2002
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2002 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Brian Kennedy, The Daily Mountain Eagle
Bookmark: (Youth)


A group of approximately 100 concerned parents and citizens gathered at 
Maddox Middle School Wednesday night for a community drug awareness forum 
focusing on children and drug use.

A panel of educated professionals who deal directly, in one form or the 
other, with drug use by youth presented the audience with valuable 
information about the dangers and potential signs of drug use.

However, it was a circuit court judge and two parents of ex-addicts that 
quite possibly made the most dramatic impact.

Walker County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Selman described his role of 
"punisher" in the drug circuit, and dispelled any notions that he would not 
punish "to the extent of the law" anyone appearing before him found to be 
guilty of selling drugs to children.

Selman took his allotment of presentation time further, however, by raising 
the questions of what parents are providing for their children.

"Drug prevention begins in the home," Selman said. "The kids that are doing 
drugs are not limited to children from poor homes, but are prevalent in 
what we tend to call the 'better homes' where the parents are working to 
try to provide their children with the best possible childhood."

Selman indicated that the effort to make sure "our children have it better 
than we did" might actually be causing the problem. The local judge pointed 
to two mistakes that he felt parents were making in raising their children.

"We are making a mistake of trying to give our children too much," Selman 
said. "And we are making a mistake of trying to be our child's friend, 
rather than being his parent."

Selman stated his belief that giving children too much without requiring 
them to earn it, serves to remove the incentive children need to work hard 
for something better.

"If we buy the fancy car for them, and we provide the fancy apartment when 
they go off to college, what incentive is there for them to work hard in 
the classroom and make good grades? There is none, because if they do work 
hard and make good grades, all that remains is the status quo. There is no 
incentive," Selman said. "As parents, we shouldn't give our children 
everything, because then there is nothing for them to work for."

Two parents of children who once found themselves in situations of drug use 
and abuse appeared to agree with the judge's statements while also 
appreciating the difficulty of parents to address the signs of a drug problem.

"Do we not see it or do we not want to see it?" one parent said. "Denial is 
the No. 1 thing . . . it is an easy wagon to jump on."

The other parent pointed out that there is no "list of do's and don'ts" to 
tackle the problem of a child using drugs and that some methods may work 
for some and be ineffective for others.

One of the most frequent phrases of advice was to observe your child when 
he or she returns from being out with friends or attending a party, and be 
aware of what you child is doing on a regular basis.

"They will tell you exactly what you want to hear. You have to do whatever 
it takes to stop their use of drugs," a parent said. "It takes tough love. 
If you don't supply that tough love, then you become a co-dependent to the 

Fortunately, for the two parents, who willingly shared their stories of 
painful times in hopes of helping others before it was too late, their 
children are now recovered addicts and enjoy drug-free lives.

Unfortunately for others, the stories of drug use and abuse do not have 
happy endings.

"Drugs effect everyone in the family," one parent said. "If your family has 
not been touched by drug use yet, odds are that it probably will."
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