Keeping Students Safe and Drug Free

There was a story in the Herald-News regarding the drug policy of Lincoln-Way high school and the zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol. It seems some parents think the policy is too strict. They appealed to the school board and the school board rejected the idea of changing the policy, citing reasons of keeping students “safe and drug-free”. Sure we all want that but if they were doing that would they need such a harsh penalty?

I like adolescent kids, I like their humor and their culture, although I hate rap and so I give them more latitude than most. The idea of an adolescent not trying intoxicants or waiting until marriage to have sex is fine, I guess, but not realistic. It’s a tough thing with adolescents because they certainly respond to narrow limits and boundaries, especially boys, but is it fair to think they won’t step outside of that boundary? It’s not. Kids don’t have the cognition for risk assessment that some adults have, that’s why they drive too fast, eat shitty food and act like assholes half the time (again, at least the boys do). When my son reaches the age of teen angst he will be told that intoxicants are not part of our family, I don’t give a monkeys balls what everyone else does, and we won’t accept drinking, or drug use and I will urine screen and breathalyze him. Do I expect that he won’t try things? No I do not.

There is growing literature out there about teenage drug use. Most of it says if they can delay their experimentation or trial period until the age of 21 they are exponentially less likely to develop a chronic problem. What’s the best way to steer kids clear of drugs. I really wish I knew. What I do know is that this kind of fear tactics (one strike and you’re out) doesn’t work. What they do is create a system of fear and secrecy, two things that never help any community with chemical use.

The school district in question has 7,000 students. Do they have any peer driven AA meetings, alternatives to teenage culture that does not include drinking? I’ll bet they don’t.  For years New York State had the Rockefeller drug laws. Mandated sentencing with no latitude, treatment alternatives, or discretion allowed. This sounds like that. Did the laws help the state, community, or addicts? No and this won’t help the high school system doing this either.  Ok, parents, let’s have another meeting and I will come and speak. They will dismiss me as a loud mouth, opinionated jerk, but when I get through with them, you will feel better.

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