The Internet Monk
"the power of opinion, the phenomenon of speech, the impact of truth"
A Dispatch From Our Correspondent in the Public Schools
What Our Children Know
by Steve Mcfarland
Last week students in our school district celebrated their graduation from the DARE program, an anti-drug and anti-violence campaign designed to teach drug, alcohol and violence issues to middle school students. The program is one of many initiatives designed to curtail drug and alcohol abuse by targeting students at a young age.
recent years the amount of money funding such prevention measures has
soared along with the amount of class time devoted to educating children
about the dangers of drug abuse. Fourth
grade children across America this month will gather for “Just Say
No” rallies complete with loud music, fiery speeches and a lot of anti
drug chants. School bus
horns will blast away telling citizens this generation is serious about
not using drugs. Adults
will feel proud.
events took place during this school year that have me convinced that
these programs, well intentioned as they are, simply are not working.
In January a local man who owns and operates a teen nightclub was
busted for dealing in “ecstasy” a so-called club drug and was
arrested under the suspicion of its use inside the club itself.
In March a college freshman that had graduated with honors from
high school died from a fall off a college dormitory balcony.
It was later learned that his death was alcohol related.
Two separate events, both tragic in their own way that speak
volumes about America’s war on drugs.
Both young men were educated on drug use and abuse and all the
issues in between. Making
sense of such things is almost impossible.
Two bright young men with promising futures forfeited by a drug
war that takes no prisoners. One life behind bars, one gone forever. The one conclusion we can all make is that it was not due to
lack of information.
children know more about drugs and their effects than I ever will.
They know what club drugs are, they know the different words for
marijuana, and they know what the blood/alcohol levels must be to be
considered under the influence. They
know of the street value of drugs, meth labs and what huffing does to
the brain. They know
more than I think they know. And
that is scaring me to death.
free society is based upon the assumption that all citizens have a right
to information. From that
base assumption has born the conclusion that being informed is a good
thing and that information empowers us.
We are urged to be in the know and embrace this information age
with an open mind and lightning quick modem.
his book “Hope When You’re Hurting”, Larry Crabb describes how the
need to know has hindered our ability to heal.
“We’re working feverishly to abolish mystery from culture.
As a result, we’re losing our sense of wonder; we don’t want
to feel the dangerous excitement of facing an unknown tomorrow.
Getting past our demand for explanation and accepting mystery is
no small achievement.” With
regard to drug use and abuse I’m thinking that fear of the unknown is
actually a good thing.
ago I, like many people, experimented with drugs and drinking.
Subsequently my drinking and drug use has long ended and I have
often shared my story with groups of young people.
Over time I began to realize that my story was really sending the
wrong message. Young people
were looking at me as a person who had survived.
The last thing they needed to take away from my little speech was
that there was nothing to fear. While
my message pleaded for them to not make the same mistakes, they took
away with them the wrongheaded idea that even people like Mr. McFarland
drugged and still did all right.
the people who really have the message are those who did not survive. And, ironically, these newest victims of the drug war are
those who have been the most exposed to drug information. Yet, they lack the fear factor that causes them to run and
hide. We have tried to
convince young people that standing up against the pressures and saying
“no” are key to staying drug free.
In reality the most effective prevention is an ingrained fear of
not knowing what will happen.
more exposed young people are to other youth and adults who do or have
done drugs, and the more exposed young people are to information about
drugs, the less fearful they will become.
Likewise, parents, who for the last decade have been practically
mandated by public service announcements to talk with their children
about drugs, are put in the position of a drug counselor and simply add
to this alarming phenomenon. As
a parent I worry about how I come across to my children on this matter.
And I am not afraid to tell them that.
I also know that information will not save them.
My battle plan is to stay as involved in their lives as possible
on a daily basis, let them know what I expect of them, and pray.
The last thing they need to hear from me is that I expect they
will experiment with drugs. The
first thing they are going to hear from me is that I expect they
ace in the hole for me is the same my parents had and which eventually
pulled me from my brief drug funk years ago.
I did not want to disappoint my parents.
Drug information did not give me that, nor did pep rallies with
my buddies. Wanting parents proud of me was of supreme importance in my
life because I was equally proud of them.
It is a drug prevention method that has proven to work for
country needs to watch closely this newest generation of high school
graduates and their drug use. College
campuses have become drug havens for students who have been bombarded
since they first entered the world of public schools with a billion
dollar anti drug campaign that rivals Sherman’s march on the south.
But the south in this story not only will rise again, it is doing
well and living in the suburbs. Should
drug use continue to escalate it may be time to throw out the
information booklets and devise a new battle plan.