September 21, 2019

Crime and Punishment: The WGHS Drug Treatment Policy

Collin Reischman is a junior Journalism major and Opinion Editor for the Journal

By Collin Reischman

If there is anything that will drive a kid to drugs, it’s a half-brained drug policy. Remember the D.A.R.E. program? More than 60 percent of public schools in America featured the anti-drug and alcohol program designed to steer kids into a sober lifestyle.
D.A.R.E. was discontinued because studies concluded that children exposed to the program were actually more likely to use drugs or other dangerous substances. This was particularly true in suburban neighborhoods that have relatively little drug crime, according to NBC.
Turns out, exposing children to the dangerous of drugs at an early age is a good way to spark their curiosity. “Save the children!” a phrase that has led to more than one coma-inducing national policy. The flawed logic of D.A.R.E. works thusly:
Young kids (5th or 6th graders, generally) are shown images and taught lessons about the negative effect of marijuana, booze, tobacco, or a number of other substances. At some point, many of these children will be exposed to such things, and when the affects and results they observe are contrary to what they have been taught, they get confused. Suffice it to say, they call bullshit on their teachers and police officers.
Tell a child that smoking pot will make his brain soft, cause hallucinations, delirium and psychosis, and the child will probably call you a liar and a cheat when nothing happens the first time he gets high.
This pattern of deceptive, aggressive and ineffective drug policy runs rampant right here in Webster Groves. Students of the high school, if caught consuming alcohol or drugs on campus, may find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
Offenses involving illegal substances warrant a minimum 10-day suspension and even expulsion. Students can forgo heavy punishment by submitted to several hours of “rehabilitation” through the school by way of the UNITE program.
So our anonymous student sits through a few hours of mind-numbing repetitive pseudo-science and he gets to walk away, Scott free. And we wonder why kids don’t take drugs seriously.
These kinds of programs are the most dangerous because they are rooted in real methods and treatments for addiction. All across the globe there are people suffering from genuine addictions to powerful and potent villain chemicals.
Abusive drunks, heroin junkies, homeless and crack-addicted inner city adults; these are all people in need of real help. It would seem our collective reasoning believes these souls, unlike the pot-smoking teenager, aren’t worth saving.
If Billy is busted smoking a joint between lunch and fifth period, he gets the chance to seek “treatment” to forgo punishment. Sadly, the generosity of well-to-do white parents only stretches to their own  “misguided” children. You’ll see no such free-rides for felons, fiends, addicts and junkies.
Hookers and pimps hooked on crank won’t get the sympathy of a 17 year-old sneaking beers in his locker. And that is a sorry, sad statement about the nature of drug policy in this country.
WGHS has its heart in the right place, even if the brain is on extended vacation. While I’m sure there is the odd student that does need real therapy and treatment for addiction, applying a blanket policy to all offenders merely reinforces the drug laws your children already laugh about.
UNITE offers a service that is valuable when applied with reason and maturity. Teaching children about the threat of drugs and alcohol is an admirable goal. Pretending to treat non-existent problems in order to omit disciplinary measures is a juvenile endeavor.
Save the children? No. The children will be fine. Spare the children.

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