Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: Hudson/St. Lazare Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2008 Lake of Two Mountains Gazette Ltd.


Gazette Editor's note: The following was submitted as a commentary on a
current news story by a local resident who wishes to remain anonymous.
Our policy is not to run unsigned submissions, but we believe this to
be one of the most eloquent anti-drug messages we've ever read. The
only change made was in blanking out the name of the youth she was
referring to.

As a substitute teacher with a high level of involvement at Mac over
the last seven years, I have known ------ since he was in Grade 7.
This situation that has occurred is reflective of a MUCH BIGGER
problem. Enormous in fact. It is the white elephant in the room. It's
simply that no one knows what to do with it because it is so HUGE, so
they blink uncomprehendingly when you say that a child is using drugs
habitually. Hanging with the wrong kids, is off track and heading down
the bad road.

- ------- was a 'red alert' kid from the beginning. But then again so
are 50 other kids at Mac and any other high school. When the word
'drug' is brought up, staff turn their heads, or shakes them in
consternation, but nothing is done. What can be done? The problem
scares the hell out of everyone because they feel it is outside of
their jurisdiction and bigger than life.

I received a call from a parent last year because her son, Grade 8,
was showing up to my classes stoned and I told him to stop it and to
come to my class straight or not come back at all. A very talented
musician, he felt humiliated in front of the class. The mother called
me, INFURIATED that I had accused her little darling of such a thing.
He had hair that made him look like "Cousin It" from the Adams Family.
She told me he never went to bed earlier than 2 a.m. so his eyes were
always red. I told her to put him to bed earlier and have his hair cut
by the next day or he could not return to my class. I was pulled into
the office and told not to accuse kids of things like THAT without
certain proof. Proof? Oh please. I nodded and smiled.

Within a week she found the bong and pipe in her son's knapsack. He is
receiving counselling as to why he feels the need to escape reality at
such a young age, and is playing guitar better than ever. Good for

- --------- is a symptom. What he did is a reflection of his "type of
kid" and the lack of thought that goes into their choices and decision
making. He is not a bad kid. In fact, I was so very sad to hear about
this occurrence because he had begun to take initiative for himself,
try to pass high school, and had shown a remarkable improvement in his
treatment of his peers and elders. He was a pleasure to be around.

What a horrible loss.

I'll tell you what is to be done. Zero tolerance policy (in New
Brunswick a research paper was written on this at Dalhousie saying
that zero tolerance wasn't realistic for schools. The school board
here read it and took the low road.). Don't ignore the fact that 1 in
5 kids are smoking up at lunch time at the park down the road. DO NOT
let kids smoke in front of the school, enforce your rules, get the
school board to bring in sentries if necessary. Have drug counselling
on campus. Bring in NA and AA meetings at lunch time. Make attendance
mandatory for kids who are suspect. Call in parents. Have kids
randomly drug tested. OPEN A DIALOGUE that is unabashed and clear in
its united intent between all the powers that be. Kids need to feel
safe, and its our job to provide that. I'm a political science major with serious lean to the left.
My father was a political speechwriter and so my diatribe proves the
whole apple falling far from the tree thingy. I just stubbed my toe on
my soap box.

But I have raised 7 kids and taught hundreds. --------- breaks my

We need to remind parents that home is NOT a democracy. "Recreational"
should not refer to anything but the local gym, and that they should
set an example. Don't drink in front of your kids, and talk talk talk
to them. Look through their drawers, their clothes, their knapsacks.
Nothing is personal but their journal.

Mac is a troubled school with good potential. Horrible circumstances
have overshadowed their attempt at progress. Patrick Barr, 13 years
old, hung himself in 2005. In 2006 another child died of leukemia.
Drug overdoses and gun fight scares. These kids have had to deal with
a lot.

Let's give them the tools not to be 'dysfunctional' in dealing with
life's circumstances. Shit happens; it doesn't mean you have to drink
or use over it. ------- had a tough home life. Everyone was aware of
it. But the councillor on staff is an adorable little bright red
haired sweet lady. Kids can;t relate to her. People with addiction
problems can ONLY relate to others with the same problems. The school
board pays for a "spiritual councillor" who never ever talks about
God. God's politically incorrect, I suppose.

My kids are good. Not perfect. I have had one thrown into rehab
because of addiction to speed. She is doing very well now and recently
produced a grandchild for me! The other left home too early and is
finding her sad little way through the world. It is the second that
was -------'s best friend. If I told her what I've told you, she would
agree, strangely enough. The circumstances that her friend brought
about for himself have caused her to come closer to home again. A good
result from a horrible event.

So, with this venting, I hope you will look at the possibility of
examining the bigger picture of drugs and behaviour related to the
kids that take them. We need to stop the madness. Look at the Patricia
Jolicoeur case. It's all about THE BEHAVIOUR.

Drugs are not the problem. They are a symptom of the inability to deal
with life on life's terms.

Most adults don't EVEN have the tools to do how in God's
name are we supposed to pass on knowledge to our kids that we don't
even have ourselves?

Community. That's how we are going to do it. Elders, teachers,
mentors. PRESSURE. Whatever it takes. But before another little soul
is taken we need to close ranks.
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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath