Pubdate: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Contact:  2008
Author: Kevin Pittack Jr.


Editor: As a graduate of Lakeland High School, I am dismayed to see the
recent news of several girls allegedly caught in the act of dealing and
purchasing drugs in the school lavatory.

How could a handful of teenage girls be peddling drugs on school
property, in the middle of a school day? How long have they been doing
so without being caught? What is more disheartening is the reactionary
response of the superintendent, Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, who, only
days after the events, sent letters to parents, urging them to be
proactive in educating their children about drugs.

I believe parents should hold that responsibility, but I also believe
the school should be held responsible for drug education since
students are there 35-40 hours a week.

An alarming fact is that the National Center for Health Statistics has
reported that teenage deaths from illicit drug abuse have tripled over
the last decade. This reverses 25 years of declining overdose
fatalities among youths in America.

I know that the elementary schools hold assemblies based around drug
education, and they provide the DARE program to students. However,
once students enter the high school in seventh grade, not much is
offered. This is the age when a high percentage of children come into
contact with illegal substances, and I believe that the school, as
well as the community, should be proactive in promoting drug education.

For instance, why not replace the ineffective "study hall" period with
a small discussion on the topic, or viewing of an informative video on
the subject? More than a dozen studies show Life Skills Training can
reduce tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use by an average of 50
percent when schools using the prevention program from the Institute
for Prevention Research at Cornell University Medical College are
compared with control groups.

When it comes to monitoring the students, I realize it is impossible
to watch each student every minute of the school day. However,
security cameras may help not only to curb drug activity but also
other unsuitable behavior by the students. I do not condone putting
cameras in the bathrooms, but maybe having attendants at the lav who
can watch for any unusual behavior would be a positive.

Either way, I believe the recent events and the possible consequences
are enough to force a thoughtful reflection on the idea of drug education.

Kevin Pittack Jr.,

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