We have what it takes to save our kids from drugs

Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Last week’s public forum on a possible drug-testing policy for Boyle County students showed there are a lot of people here who care about our kids’ futures more than anything else.

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That’s an important and valuable resource for the community, and for our students. We should not ignore or squander it.

If the only thing that comes out of all the passion on display at last Thursday’s forum is a random drug-testing policy that may or may not help a handful of students avoid drugs, then we have failed to tap into our full potential.

Drugs are a huge problem and we would be foolish to underestimate how damaging they can be at a young age — we need no more evidence than the heartbreaking testimony of those who told the board how lives were ruined for years, even decades, by drug use that began in high school. Some parents have lost their children to drugs — tragedies that should never happen.

We need to use the full force of the caring, intelligent and passionate people who attended the forum — and the no doubt hundreds more out there who also care but weren’t able to attend or didn’t know about the event — to implement the best strategies possible for preventing student drug abuse.

We need evidence-based, proven methods that help. We need positive community involvement in our children’s lives. We need as many extracurricular options as possible from as many different groups as possible — schools, churches, Parks & Rec — to make sure students have lots of better things to do.

We need to further develop and promote educational resources for parents that teach them how to communicate with their children, how to watch for red flags of drug use, how to build trust and how to help if they do discover their child using.

We need to develop deeper, more trusting relationships between students and school staff, so that students will feel comfortable coming to adults for help if they stumble into drug use, knowing they’ll get help and not punishment.

We can do all of that and more if we tap into the amazing human resources we saw on display last week. And we can do all of it without further stigmatizing drug use through random drug-testing, which brings with it the unfortunate suggestion that students are criminals and not to be trusted.

Drug abuse survives and grows by staying in the shadows and preying on our fears. It persists because we as a society continue to treat it as something to be ashamed of. That turns it into something to hide and battle on our own, which means it only ever gets discussed and dealt with if you get caught doing it.

We must stop letting our fear of drugs cripple our response to them. We must not fall into the trap of thinking a firmly worded policy is the solution to such a complicated problem.

If we really, truly want to tackle the drug-abuse problem and make things better for our kids, it will not be easy. It will require large, enduring investments of time and resources from many in the community, not just our schools. It will require many to rethink what they think they know. It will result in a complete culture shift in how we treat and interact with our kids.

Thanks to last week’s forum, we know this community has what it takes. The only question is whether we will live up to our potential.