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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

They threw a pot confab and no one came

What if you arrange a meeting to tell parents how to recognize when their kids are using marijuana and no one shows up?

That's what happened in Aberdeen last night. A group called Positively Parents scheduled an informational meeting at which a police officer was to make a presentation on what to look for when kids are using pot. No one showed up.

Positively Parents is a joint venture of the Yapatorium, a program designed to provide youth and adults opportunities to communicate with each other, and the Aberdeen Career Planning Center.

Why did no parents show up? Well, would you? If you're a parent can you imagine joining a throng of other parents to learn how to tell if your kids are inhaling the funny stuff somewhere? You mean you don't enjoy gathering together with your parent peers and being treeated like an idiot?

As the father of three and a professor who has worked with young people over the decades, I can attest to the ineffectiveness of programs dealing with drugs and alcohol. They are ineffective because they are patronizing. Patronization is the severest form of insult.

Drugs and alcohol are probably the biggest issue facing anyone--parents, educators--who deal with kids. As for the kids, by the time they reach middle school, they have sat through so many DARE programs and other lectures on the evils of ingesting substances that they find them boring, annoying, irrelevant, and, yes, patronizing. The anti-drug and alcohol sessions become a joke.

As a parent, I am more concerned about the peer attitudes that make alcohol and drugs such cool things to mess around with. None of the programs deal with the real motivations behind drug and alcohol use among the young. In fact, they aggravate the problem. The programs make their use even more attractive because they give the young something specific to feel superior to and rebel against.

Coming the day after the Aberdeen School District approved a mandatory-voluntary drug testing program (see our previous post), this failed meeting says something about the ineffectiveness of the standard efforts to deal with drug and alcohol use.

Just as the first step in treatment for an addict is to admit having a problem, it is time our society admits it has a problem in the way it approaches alcohol and drug issues.

And our problem is that stupid can't be fixed and stupid meddling can fix nothing. And in Aberdeen drug issues have been met with incredible ignorance and stupidity. Our failed attempts should at least show us how not to be stupid.


Douglas said...

Alcohol is a drug that acts like an anesthetic.

I never figured I had excess brain cells that needed killing or dulling with drugs like alcohol or any other.

There is an incredible arrogance in people who seem to think they have so much intelligence they can drink with impunity.

coralhei said...

A little anecdotal evidence in further support of David's position: I remember the "Pride" anti-alcohol program Madison High School subjected us kids to my freshman year. I went in a judgmental teetotaler and came out tolerant of those who chose to have a drink or two. Oops.

Curious: have alcohol and drug abuse been a cultural constant since homesteading days? Were there senior keggers back in the Depression? Or has the great expansion of "community dialogues" and counseling initiatives acctually coincided with an increase in such unhealthy behavior?

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