Pubdate: Tue, 05 Apr 2005
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer (OH)
Copyright: 2005 The Cincinnati Enquirer


Last week Milford Exempted Village Schools made it clear that they
won't play dumb and passively abide teen drug use. School officials
capped an eight-month investigation with the Friday arrest of 16
students on drug charges, stirring up a hornet's nest.

Their use of an undercover private investigator who posed as a student
is controversial and may trigger a legal challenge. But it's a bold
rebuke of the denial and excuse-making that takes place in too many
families, schools and communities. Milford took action on behalf of
kids. We applaud the message and leave it to the Milford community to
debate the means.

Whatever happens to the case in the long run, it's a painfully
obtained opportunity for all parents to discuss the dangers of drug
use with their children. According to a study released by the
Partnership for a Drug-Free America just six weeks ago, that
conversation doesn't happen often enough.

The study showed 12 percent of parents of teens said they've never
talked to their children about drugs - twice the number who avoided
the conversation six years ago. Meanwhile, fewer than one in three
teens say they've learned much at home about the dangers of drugs.

An easygoing approach to substance abuse - with half of parents saying
they wouldn't be upset if their teen experimented with marijuana - is
not the message teenagers need.

They need to know their parents love them too much to allow
"experimentation" that comes at such high risk and nonexistent gain.
Drug use is not a ritual teens must pass through. It's not something
that marks their passage into maturity. Thinking that one has somehow
enlightened teens - or more likely won their friendship or a
cool-parent award - by allowing them to dabble in drugs is a risky and
ultimately selfish approach by any adult.

Some Milford High School students have lamented the undercover
operation, calling it entrapment and worrying about the aftermath.
"This is going to ruin some of our friends' lives," senior Amy Smith
told an Enquirer reporter.

As if the charges are the greatest threat these students

Let's keep our eyes on the big picture: The worst thing that can
happen to these students is not that they face the music if they were
indeed dealing drugs. The worst thing is that they can die of drug
abuse. Or live in the long, slow agony of addiction. Or contribute to
the death of a peer. Or - almost certainly - contribute to an illegal,
underground industry that makes the world a more dangerous,
unpredictable place for all of us.

Admire its method or not, the Milford school district has put some
ugly and urgent issues on the table to be examined. We hope other
schools will be as willing to wrestle with this topic, to be a full
partner in raising healthy children and to take tough stands when needed.

And we hope even more fervently that, no matter how they felt about
Milford's approach, parents will partner with schools in this fight.
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