Pubdate: Fri, 19 May 2006
Source: Oak Bay News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Oak Bay News
Author: Rudy Haugeneder
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Advocate Calls For Court Reform

Young teenage girls are targets - and victims - of crystal meth dealers.

Body-conscious girls as young as 13 are easily suckered into using 
the highly addictive narcotic because it also works as an appetite 
suppressant, says Mark McLaughlin, founder and president of the 
Crystal Meth Victoria Society.

"On the street one of the most common new customers are young girls 
between 13-14," he said.

"They are targeted because of body image concerns - a way to lose weight."

The pushers "prey on young girls, hoping to manipulate and control 
them" into becoming not only customers, but prostitutes or members of 
juvenile theft rings, said McLaughlin.

Addicted youngsters are sent to steal goods for which they are paid 
in crystal meth, he said.

If caught, the teenagers don't suffer any consequences because of 
what he calls the "catch and release concept" which lets young offenders off.

Adult ringleaders are rarely fingered by their teen victims and also 
get off "home free."

Even when the teens hit adult age, McLaughlin said the courts let 
them down because the reason for criminal activity - to buy crystal 
meth - isn't mentioned during court appearances.

He thinks it would be useful to state the reason for criminal 
behavior so the appropriate treatment can be offered to help.

"Right now, nobody knows and no offer of treatment can be made," said 
McLaughlin who has just won an award from Volunteer Vancouver 
recognizing the work of the society and a SD 61 Community Task Force on meth.

A task force survey of inmates at the local provincial jail in 
Saanich, the juvenile detention facility, and those booked into 
police cells last year showed just how bad the crystal meth problem is.

The prisoner intake surveys showed 48 per cent of youth and 62 per 
cent of adult prisoners use crystal meth.

Fourteen per cent of youngsters and 42 per cent of adults said they 
committed crimes to support their addiction, with 16 per cent of 
youth and 56 per cent of adults committing crimes while high.

An informal survey of youth workers found that up to 85 per cent of 
workers' clients use crystal meth.

The surveys found that teen and adult crystal meth users agreed on 
what might help them stay away from the drug: counseling, treatment 
and positive social influences such as family and friends. The 
youngsters also cited leaving Victoria as a factor in recovery.
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