By Rod Uyeda, Chief Of Police, Manhattan Beach, CA
As we start another year, we all have another opportunity to begin anew all of our efforts to combat the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by our young people. By all of us, I especially mean parents, teachers, adults and the young people themselves. So many of our young people are faced with difficult decisions, and the bad ones are often times accompanied by peer pressure by those who have already taken major steps to permanently and negatively affect their future through alcohol and other drug abuse.
Why do young people intentionally choose to abuse substances that they know are illegal at their age and know are bad for their health? Probably because adults, as well as the media and film industry, make it appear so much fun to do. I’m not being critical of adults for their use of tobacco and alcohol, though I do harshly criticize adults who indulge in illegal drugs. But, for any adult who believes that their child is not using these substances, you need to be aware that statistically, over half of all teenagers use one of these substances…many to excess! The bottom line is that pressure from their peers and their own faulty decision making leads them down this dangerous path and many young people who do not successfully leave this path suffer tragic consequences. For young people, take these statistics to heart! Alcohol and other drugs destroy lives! Don’t add to the long, long list of those who learned the hard way!
For parents…if a school offers voluntary drug testing programs and your child is not a part of that program, that is a huge red flag! If a coach encourages his or her athletes not to participate in drug testing programs, that is another huge red flag. If your children avoid you when they come home late at night, that is a huge red flag! The police and the schools can only do so much when it comes to helping your children avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The major responsibility falls on you…parents and coaches. Drug testing holds people accountable. If you suspect, ask your child about testing. If they refuse, there is probably use taking place. The consequences are to wait until something tragic happens, by which time, it may be too late to make a difference.
Did you know that out of every 100 people that apply to become police officers only 1% are hired? Alcohol and other drugs are a major factor in disqualifying applicants that didn’t realize the consequences of illegal drug use and underage drinking. It comes down to a matter of courage, judgment, and character. It takes tremendous courage to “say no” to peer pressure. And it shows strength in judgment and character to stay away from things that you know are bad for you.
It is a team effort to help our young people stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Let’s all do our part to help ensure their long life and success!
The above information from TheAntiDrug.com, is brought to you by the South Bay Coalition and the Manhattan Beach Police Department. The South Bay Coalition (www.sbcoalition.com) is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. To order our booklet: A Parent’s Guide To The Prevention Of Alcohol And Other Drugs, please visit our website or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.