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Drugs and Kids: What Do We Do?

October 04, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

Reports last week that three fourth-graders from Haddon Avenue Elementary School in Pacoima unknowingly ingested LSD alarmed parents and raised new worries that drug education efforts are falling short of their mark.

Fueling concerns are recent studies indicating that drug use among children has surged since the early 1990s, led by rising use of marijuana. One study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America found that 28% of 9- to 12-year-olds were offered illegal drugs in 1997.

MICHAEL BAKER asked a parent, a grandparent and a student if anti-drug campaigns in schools are effective.

LEN WOEHLER / Grandfather of nine, father of three adult children

We need to reevaluate. I think the biggest problem we have is that parents aren't being parents anymore.

And I do think that to some degree, school systems ought to think about having something like parenthood as part of the curriculum, rather than anything else that they teach that doesn't seem to be helping the kids.

A parenthood class is important in training people how to be responsible.

One way to stop the flow of drugs is [for] parents to be more accountable. I think that parents really need to be more accountable for what their children's behavior is, what their actions are and where they are at any given time.

Too many parents have just given up and let their kids run off. Parents let their kids do what they want to do and what their peers want them to do, without being in charge of the family.

I think the problem always starts at home. When parents aren't a good example to their children, many of those children don't turn out to be nice kids. If there is a situation at home when the parents don't follow the law and the morals of the time, kids pick up on that early and just translate that into their own lives.

I don't think the solution lies with more money into the schools. I think it really comes back to the basics of family life.

GARY JOHNSON / 35, father of a 13-year-old boy attending elementary school in Granada Hills

It's a tremendous problem that really needs some strong measures to take care of it. They need more security. Everybody should be checked when they first come in the door to a school. It's really harsh, but maybe you should even bring dogs into the schools to check lockers and things like that. Of course, you have to worry because you don't want to violate anybody's rights, but they may have to do something like that.

Police need to go after drug dealers more effectively. The first thing you've got to do is get the big drug dealers. You need to get the big guys first and then go after the smaller guys. It's the same with the gun problem.

There should also be some more education programs. They need to have more drug awareness classes. Maybe think about building more schools and keeping people off the streets, instead of building prisons.

They also need programs where the kids can go and play basketball or something like that, like they used to have with the midnight basketball leagues. If they're doing that, they don't have time to do drugs.

JOEY OTSUKA / 16, Granada Hills High School senior

Considering all the drugs out there, I think the school district [Los Angeles Unified School District] does a really good job now. I have seen some of the problems, but a lot of the programs seem to work well. Maybe we just need more of the right type of programs. They have overall abuse prevention programs, attendance programs; metal detectors do a lot to discourage the bad elements and other security controls. I believe they are on campus, but a little more controlled at this school.

Some extra-curricular activities can help some people, but I basically think it's a choice. You can stay off drugs for yourself and for your education. Programs that promote staying off drugs can help you make the right choice.

We do need some more educational programs at all levels. In elementary, junior high and high school. I don't think you want to wait too long. If you just all of a sudden pull somebody off the street and tell them that drugs are bad, it's not really going to help.

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