Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2006
Source: Esquimalt News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 Esquimalt News
Author: Rudy Haugeneder
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Teenage girls are prime targets - and victims - of crystal meth dealers.

It's because 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.

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

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."

Teenage crystal meth addicts experience addiction-caused erratic and 
often-violent behavior that results in them getting thrown out of 
home and school, he said.

Even when the teens hit legally 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 

Prisoner intake surveys show 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.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman