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


Teenage Girls Barely Old Enough To Need Training Bras Are Targets - 
And Victims - Of Crystal Meth Dealers.

It's because body-conscious girls as young as 13 are being suckered 
into using the highly addictive street drug that has a reputation 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. (Crystal meth) is 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 
with crystal meth, he said.

It's a trap made more challenging because the young offender section 
of the federal Criminal Code renders the judicial system powerless to 
affect change, he added.

When caught committing crimes to get the drug, teenagers don't suffer 
any consequences because of what he calls the "catch and release 
concept" that lets young offenders off.

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

Teenage crystal meth addicts can experience erratic and often-violent 
behavior that results in them getting thrown out of home and school.

Even when the teens legally become adults,at 19 in B.C., 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 just won an award from Volunteer Vancouver 
recognizing the work of the society and a Greater Victoria school 
board Community Task Force on Meth.

Society volunteer Nancy Pearson also won a Woman of Distinction award 
for her work as the group's media relations officer.

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.

The society is inviting the public to attend a screening of the new 
documentary, Crystal Fear, Crystal Clear, part of a Crystal Meth film 
and forum event, at 1 p.m. today (Friday) at the Conservatory of 
Music, 709 Pandora Ave. (at Quadra Street).
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom