- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2001

Recently I asked my daughter, Macon, age 19 and a recent graduate of the schools of Arlington, about the use of drugs in the schools.
Her thoughts about the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program run by police departments: "It's ridiculous. Before the DARE officer came into my school, I didn't know anything about drugs. I'd seen people drinking beer, but that's all.
"DARE made the world seem like it had a lot of drugs. I started hearing about them in grade-school DARE. It made the world seem scary and grim. I wouldn't have thought about drugs if I hadn't been told about them.
"The cop in third grade came with a big box with samples of all of the drugs, with the skull and crossbones on the dangerous ones, that made us feel scared and curious. In middle school people started wondering about the different drugs, and DARE told them about ones they wouldn't have known to look for. The officer came in with both so we could see just what they looked like.
"We knew that lots of musicians were doing the same drugs. The school said drugs were bad, but all the people I thought were neat were doing drugs.
"It's ridiculous to create a culture of awareness with really young children and then wonder why they know about them when they get older.
"How hard it is to get drugs depends on financial background, because the rich kids will get more expensive drugs. That's natural. The whole array is available if you look for it in any suburban school, at least around D.C.
"Kids in the suburbs don't have anything to do. They're bored. There's no sense of community. So they play with drugs: Cigarettes to marijuana, speed, Ecstasy, acid, mushrooms. Younger kids will inhale Dust-Off or other chemicals like that. Nitrous oxide you get mostly at concerts. You'd have to look more for crack in suburban high schools.
"Really hard drugs are mostly done by rich white kids. There are a lot of psychodrugs that kids trade: Xanax, Ritalin, codeine, serious painkillers, because rich kids get them from psychiatrists and trade them, or overdose on them for effect.
"Yorktown [High School in Arlington] and other wealthy schools are worse than their appearance would suggest. In Washington-Lee , an average school, I'd guess 40 percent use some kind of drug, maybe 15 [percent] use or try harder drugs. More probably try.
"Boredom more than anything leads kids to use drugs. They don't have anything to do in the suburbs. The only things that are fun that are legal involve money, which kids usually don't have. For example, going to coffee shops costs money, and usually involves cigarettes. Movies are expensive. Kids especially have no place to be happy and feel part of the community, because once you turn into an early teen nobody wants you around. The whole music industry has drugs in it all over the place, and schools feel like jails because cops are everywhere.
"Most teachers don't feel like friends but disciplinarians. Especially with the police it got to be a game of us and them, trying to sneak off campus, and then you might as well drink some beer or something.
"Kids would walk off campus, smoke a joint, and come back. People were stoned in class a lot. I knew kids in high school who were stoned on crystal meth in class.
"Most teachers don't know what's going on, or else never address it.
"Often the kids who have the biggest parties look like All-Americans, and a large percentage get drunk. Most people just smoke pot and drink; often the more wealthy, isolated types do harder drugs.
"The war on drugs is a crock. Giving kids more drugs, psychoactive meds, is really stupid. Kids need a place to go and hang out. Skateboarding for example is an activity that doesn't necessarily involve drugs, yet is often treated criminally. Community centers should have facilities for such activities that people will actually do.
"I don't know what can be done about drugs. It's just part of being young.
"Kids are going to use drugs, you can't stop them, so maybe teach them how to use drugs safely. I don't know whether that's a good idea or not.
"The biggest thing is to stop what's making them use drugs in the first place. They need families and community and less television. Kids are just generally depressed, so they do drugs. Overall the whole environment for teen-agers needs to be fixed."
She has seen what she's talking about.
It wouldn't necessarily hurt to listen.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide