Should Kids Be Taught Safe Drug Use In School?

teen-pot-smoking-methodsFood for thought: is “abstinence only” education as flawed in regard to drugs as it is in regards to sex? (I recommend re-utilizing the slogan “Stop, Drop, and Roll” for purposes of drug education.) This comes on the heels of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s commendable decision to mandate sex ed in the city’s public school system. Via AlterNet:

I applaud the Mayor’s campaign to teach sex education in school. While many parents may hope that their teenagers won’t be sexually active, the reality is that most teenagers will have sex and it is important that they are educated about the risks.

The same principles and goals of sex education should be applied to drug education. While many schools already provide honest sex education that acknowledges the reality that some teens will have sex, our nation’s drug education programs treat abstinence as the sole measure of success and the only acceptable teaching option. This simplistic and unrealistic “education” does not acknowledge the reality that 75% of teens will try alcohol and 50% will try marijuana before they graduate. Instead of giving our teens honest information about drugs, we have police go into schools give them reefer madness.

Too many abstinence-only programs try to scare young people away from trying drugs by highlighting phony horror stories—“if you use marijuana use may turn you into a homeless heroin addict.” Yet, the vast majority of people who try marijuana never become addicted or go on to try harder drugs. This leads to many teens ignoring all the drug information relayed to them by people in authority. Once we lose our credibility, it is harder for them to hear the messages that they truly need to hear, like the most dangerous thing you can do it get in a car with someone who has been drinking or high.

Honest drug education would tell young people about the true effects and consequences—good, bad and terrifying—that can happen from a range of drugs like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pills. One area of substantial progress when it comes to young people and drugs is the campaign against cigarette smoking. This campaign treats teens with respect and gives honest information about smoking’s consequences. Teens also can see the harm of cigarette smoking in the lives of their loved ones.

Ironically, one of the most harmful effects of marijuana for young people—especially for young blacks and Latinos in New York—is getting arrested by the police. Under Mayor Bloomberg, marijuana arrests have exploded, with more than 50,000 marijuana arrests in NYC in 2010 alone. Close to 90% of those arrested are black and Latino, despite the fact that white people are just as likely to use or sell marijuana. These out of control marijuana arrests are happening despite the fact that under an ounce is supposed to be a ticket, not an arrest. The only time someone should be arrested with under an ounce of marijuana is if the person is smoking it or the marijuana is in “plain view.” The police stop and frisk mostly young people of color and trick them to show them what they have in their pockets. Once the marijuana is pulled out, the police say that it is in “plain view” and they arrest them. Once someone is arrested there is a whole set of collateral consequences like loss of student financial aid, public housing, etc. Young people knowing their rights and not pulling the small amount of marijuana out of their pocket is honest drug education that would be of valuable use to NY teenagers.

While it may be hard for parents to hear, large percentages of teens will have sex and will try drugs before they graduate. I admire New York and Bloomberg for recognizing the need for honest sex education. It is time for us to recognize that we also need for honest drug education. We need to drop “Just Say NO” and replace it with “Just Say Know.” We need our teens to know that the bottom line is that we love them and we want them to be safe.

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  • jasonpaulhayes

    Yes, of course they should .. but that depends upon what the said definition of “Safe Drug Use” is and upon ending “The War On Drugs”.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    Yes, of course they should .. but that depends upon what the said definition of “Safe Drug Use” is and upon ending “The War On Drugs”.

  • StillAtMyMoms

    I always thought D.A.R.E. provoked kids to be more curious of drugs and alcohol.  Isn’t it accepted logic that a kid is going to be determined to try something when they are constantly indoctrinated about being prohibited from doing so? 

  • StillAtMyMoms

    I always thought D.A.R.E. provoked kids to be more curious of drugs and alcohol.  Isn’t it accepted logic that a kid is going to be determined to try something when they are constantly indoctrinated about being prohibited from doing so? 

  • Threedinium

    Seems like a step in the right direction. However doing something like that would mean the having to admit that things like LSD do in fact enhance creativity and promote healthier states of mind. And by christ no-one wants that.

  • Threedinium

    Seems like a step in the right direction. However doing something like that would mean the having to admit that things like LSD do in fact enhance creativity and promote healthier states of mind. And by christ no-one wants that.

  • Threedinium

    Seems like a step in the right direction. However doing something like that would mean the having to admit that things like LSD do in fact enhance creativity and promote healthier states of mind. And by christ no-one wants that.

  • Lazy Comet

    As others have pointed out: once kids realize they have been lied to about marijuana and psychedelics, they may be more likely to start using more harmful and addictive substances — figuring that they’ve been lied to about the other substances as well.

    I was subjected to the DARE program in fifth grade in an elementary school in the American South.  The program was “taught” by a cop who was in favor of alcohol and cigarettes being made illegal.  At no point in the program was the question “Why would a person do drugs?” answered or even acknowledged.  Also conspicuously absent from the curriculum was any reference to the fact that virtually every human society since the beginning of time has consumed consciousness-altering substances.

    The author of the AlterNet editorial above makes a refreshingly sane argument.  But: I suspect that, for the dominant culture to embrace sane drug policies, something like a shift in cultural consciousness is going to be necessary.  Addiction is a very real, widespread problem — and it must perceived for what it “is”: the consequence of a culture of widespread emotional trauma and escapist consumerism, a dysfunctional pseudo-hedonism in which it is your duty to consume fun, and suppress the realization that it ain’t really that fun at all, is it? 

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Nailed it. So true. I only fell from grace and encountered trouble with hard drugs…after being lulled into a false sense of security after every soft drug I tried did no harm and contradicted everything I had ever been taught. It’s hard to believe any warnings when the previous 99 have been false flags…but getting people to understand that lies and exaggerations don’t help and actually hurt??? It’s almost an insurmountable task in a culture that lives on delusion.

      • Malk

        thats because you were lied to.
        the way to solve the problem is to tell the truth, and not just about marijuana, but about cocaine and heroin and bath salts and all the other stupid shit american kids are messing with. if they don’t know anything the don’t know any better. if they only know lies, they dont believe anything, and then again they dont know anything. teach the truth, show pictures, use statistics, HEROIN IS BAD, marijuana? not really a big deal… teachers are just too pussy to venture out the civil war/ algebra curriculum, or are being oppressed by their employers/state laws. I know mine were anyway.

  • Lazy Comet

    As others have pointed out: once kids realize they have been lied to about marijuana and psychedelics, they may be more likely to start using more harmful and addictive substances — figuring that they’ve been lied to about the other substances as well.

    I was subjected to the DARE program in fifth grade in an elementary school in the American South.  The program was “taught” by a cop who was in favor of alcohol and cigarettes being made illegal.  At no point in the program was the question “Why would a person do drugs?” answered or even acknowledged.  Also conspicuously absent from the curriculum was any reference to the fact that virtually every human society since the beginning of time has consumed consciousness-altering substances.

    The author of the AlterNet editorial above makes a refreshingly sane argument.  But: I suspect that, for the dominant culture to embrace sane drug policies, something like a shift in cultural consciousness is going to be necessary.  Addiction is a very real, widespread problem — and it must perceived for what it “is”: the consequence of a culture of widespread emotional trauma and escapist consumerism, a dysfunctional pseudo-hedonism in which it is your duty to consume fun, and suppress the realization that it ain’t really that fun at all, is it? 

  • Dunniteowl

    I don’t think “safe drug use” is a useful educational tool.  That’s silly.  That’s like saying, “Class, we don’t think you should be doing heroin, but today, we’re going to show you how to properly shoot up — you know, in case you’re tempted into trying it sometime.  We want you to be smart about your potential slide into human marginalization and decadence.”  Then again, if it were presented like that, maybe it’d be okay.

    What we really need is to change the ultra hypocritical situation in the US with the asinine War on Drugs (and the War on Terror or Crime or Poverty, because you only trivialize the real issues and turn it into a never evending crusade of draconian punitive practices… I digress.)  If Prohibition taught this country anything is that prohibiting a drug (in that case alcohol, which is physically addictive, causes all sorts of mental, physical and social problems) that is in demand and considered a social ill causes much worse than it prevents.

    In the Prohibition Era, this country saw the rise and terror of the Organized Crime (outside of government that is) Syndicates.  Why?  Because they were already outside the law and now they had a real moneymaker: Alcohol.  With the bootlegging and distribution of alcohol, organized crime fought over turf.  They increased the size of their ‘armies’ with untaxed revenues, eagerly paid to them by their customers.  They bought the latest weaponry, more cars and paid off police, judges, politicians with all this cash that was generated. When business got good, they wanted to expand.  They expanded into markets that were already being run by some other organization and turf wars of extreme violence broke out.  Drive by shootings, car, home and businesses were bombed or torched.  The police were outgunned and all they could really do was raid speakeasys and arrest the consumers.

    Does any of that sound familiar?  It should.  It could be used exactly the same today only substitute marijuana, cocaine or even ecstasy for alcohol and all the other conditions of the story ring completely accurate 65+ years post Prohibition.  And if we repealed these hypocritical laws, we’d be able to legalize cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and possibly even heroin.  If not legalize it, at least decriminalize it.

    Currently marijuana is considered a Class I drug, which means it’s supposed to be physically addictive and causes known medical and psychological issues.  At present, there is ample evidence that marijuana does not meet the bar of this classification while both alcohol and tobacco do.  So why are two of the most addictive substances man can abues legalized while several others are not?  Why aren’t tobacco and alcohol Class I drugs and prohibited?

    The answer is simple: Money.

    If money is the key, then the only sane answer to the issue is to legalize marijuana, maybe even cocaine and at least decriminalize herion use.  Once that is done, pot can be regulated, controlled and taxed.  Growers could become honest businessmen, adding to the Federal Coffers, and reducing significantly the police presence required to enforce stupid and socially damaging laws that are puritannical echoes of Prohibition.

    If it’s money, then regulatory requirements, licensing, taxation and quality controls would go a long, LONG way to make marijuana a less socially destructive issue than it currently is.  Our prisons are filled with folks doing time for getting high and they don’t get released early, while robbers, rapists and thieves can get out due to overcrowding, good behavior and reformation recommendations.  Talk about insane.

    Education is important.  Our children should be warned that these “recreational” drugs are not for children and that they have grave potential to harm them in whatever ways we can prove are true.  We need to continue to enforce laws that prohibit sale to minors and be consistent about it.  We also need to show how the laws and regulations of a knee jerk society can cause more harm than good, drawing the clear parallels to increased crime and violence due to acting with an emotional instead of a rational response when creating legislation.

    I am opposed to showing children the proper way to load a blunt, smoke a crack pipe, or prepare a shooting rig for heroin.  If we’re going to do that, then we might as well also show them the proper way to clean and load an AK-47, an HK or Glock 9mm and the venerable Tommy Gun, because, you know, just in case they decide to become a gang member and need to know that stuff to survive a turf war so that they can make it to school the next day.  Education must always be rational and proportionate to the audience and the rational expectations of society at large.  Learn the truth about drugs, yes.  Learn how to use them, no.

  • Dunniteowl

    I don’t think “safe drug use” is a useful educational tool.  That’s silly.  That’s like saying, “Class, we don’t think you should be doing heroin, but today, we’re going to show you how to properly shoot up — you know, in case you’re tempted into trying it sometime.  We want you to be smart about your potential slide into human marginalization and decadence.”  Then again, if it were presented like that, maybe it’d be okay.

    What we really need is to change the ultra hypocritical situation in the US with the asinine War on Drugs (and the War on Terror or Crime or Poverty, because you only trivialize the real issues and turn it into a never evending crusade of draconian punitive practices… I digress.)  If Prohibition taught this country anything is that prohibiting a drug (in that case alcohol, which is physically addictive, causes all sorts of mental, physical and social problems) that is in demand and considered a social ill causes much worse than it prevents.

    In the Prohibition Era, this country saw the rise and terror of the Organized Crime (outside of government that is) Syndicates.  Why?  Because they were already outside the law and now they had a real moneymaker: Alcohol.  With the bootlegging and distribution of alcohol, organized crime fought over turf.  They increased the size of their ‘armies’ with untaxed revenues, eagerly paid to them by their customers.  They bought the latest weaponry, more cars and paid off police, judges, politicians with all this cash that was generated. When business got good, they wanted to expand.  They expanded into markets that were already being run by some other organization and turf wars of extreme violence broke out.  Drive by shootings, car, home and businesses were bombed or torched.  The police were outgunned and all they could really do was raid speakeasys and arrest the consumers.

    Does any of that sound familiar?  It should.  It could be used exactly the same today only substitute marijuana, cocaine or even ecstasy for alcohol and all the other conditions of the story ring completely accurate 65+ years post Prohibition.  And if we repealed these hypocritical laws, we’d be able to legalize cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and possibly even heroin.  If not legalize it, at least decriminalize it.

    Currently marijuana is considered a Class I drug, which means it’s supposed to be physically addictive and causes known medical and psychological issues.  At present, there is ample evidence that marijuana does not meet the bar of this classification while both alcohol and tobacco do.  So why are two of the most addictive substances man can abues legalized while several others are not?  Why aren’t tobacco and alcohol Class I drugs and prohibited?

    The answer is simple: Money.

    If money is the key, then the only sane answer to the issue is to legalize marijuana, maybe even cocaine and at least decriminalize herion use.  Once that is done, pot can be regulated, controlled and taxed.  Growers could become honest businessmen, adding to the Federal Coffers, and reducing significantly the police presence required to enforce stupid and socially damaging laws that are puritannical echoes of Prohibition.

    If it’s money, then regulatory requirements, licensing, taxation and quality controls would go a long, LONG way to make marijuana a less socially destructive issue than it currently is.  Our prisons are filled with folks doing time for getting high and they don’t get released early, while robbers, rapists and thieves can get out due to overcrowding, good behavior and reformation recommendations.  Talk about insane.

    Education is important.  Our children should be warned that these “recreational” drugs are not for children and that they have grave potential to harm them in whatever ways we can prove are true.  We need to continue to enforce laws that prohibit sale to minors and be consistent about it.  We also need to show how the laws and regulations of a knee jerk society can cause more harm than good, drawing the clear parallels to increased crime and violence due to acting with an emotional instead of a rational response when creating legislation.

    I am opposed to showing children the proper way to load a blunt, smoke a crack pipe, or prepare a shooting rig for heroin.  If we’re going to do that, then we might as well also show them the proper way to clean and load an AK-47, an HK or Glock 9mm and the venerable Tommy Gun, because, you know, just in case they decide to become a gang member and need to know that stuff to survive a turf war so that they can make it to school the next day.  Education must always be rational and proportionate to the audience and the rational expectations of society at large.  Learn the truth about drugs, yes.  Learn how to use them, no.

  • Anon

    and if they’re given drugs at school kids would stay in school because its more interesting

  • Anon

    and if they’re given drugs at school kids would stay in school because its more interesting

  • Hadrian999

    i think they should drastically reduce the things they teach in school and actually teach kids to do those things well, I’ve met a lot a lot of kids in college lately that don’t seem like they should have graduated gradeschool

    • senorchupacabra

      I grew up in what most people would probably refer to as a “ghetto” and spent two years as an addictions counselor in a halfway house. And to this day, I maintain that the dumbest, most illiterate and simple people I have ever met, I met in college. This is not an exaggeration. (Although, granted, I did go to two shitty colleges….)

      • Hadrian999

        I can’t really complain, i got a 4.0 without really trying that hard thanks to tragically lowered standards

  • Hadrian999

    i think they should drastically reduce the things they teach in school and actually teach kids to do those things well, I’ve met a lot a lot of kids in college lately that don’t seem like they should have graduated gradeschool

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ELVARQAQTCKOSF4KL736MX4NN4 Joseph

    I grew up in what most people would probably refer to as a “ghetto” and spent two years as an addictions counselor in a halfway house. And to this day, I maintain that the dumbest, most illiterate and simple people I have ever met, I met in college. This is not an exaggeration. (Although, granted, I did go to two shitty colleges….)

  • Wanooski

    Well, watson and crick wouldn’t have uncovered the structure of DNA without LSD.

  • Hadrian999

    I can’t really complain, i got a 4.0 without really trying that hard thanks to tragically lowered standards

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I always give the same lecture to curious teens who dare to speak to the crusty old punk philosopher at the coffee well:

    The greatest danger you will ever face from drugs…is cops. Treat any drug like you would booze…don’t overdo it, mixing unknowns is unsafe, do it where you can have privacy, have friends to back you up if need be…but be prepared for the consequences. The biggest consequence has nothing to do with fair or right or any feel good moral BS…it has to do with reality. Cops will go ten miles out of their way to ruin your life if they catch you with drugs…and feel good about it while they do it.You may experience other hassles, like skeezy dealers and rips offs and such…but those are minor problems compared to cops. Being paranoid is your best choice because of cops…and if you think you can’t get caught because you’re too smart…BS…once you get stoned or trip…you aren’t that brilliant anymore…you can get caught. You may see yourself as a trippy happy go lucky person who does no harm to anyone…and that may be true…but cops are trained to see you as a combination rabid pitbull/baby rapist on PCP…and it doesn’t matter if its all lies and BS…they will treat you that way.

    If the risks are worth it…if you really want to commit to doing drugs…go into it understanding that you place yourself at risk of violence, jail and permanent poverty resulting from a criminal record…then go and be as safe as you can and have fun…but always remember…your number one problem is cops.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I always give the same lecture to curious teens who dare to speak to the crusty old punk philosopher at the coffee well:

    The greatest danger you will ever face from drugs…is cops. Treat any drug like you would booze…don’t overdo it, mixing unknowns is unsafe, do it where you can have privacy, have friends to back you up if need be…but be prepared for the consequences. The biggest consequence has nothing to do with fair or right or any feel good moral BS…it has to do with reality. Cops will go ten miles out of their way to ruin your life if they catch you with drugs…and feel good about it while they do it.You may experience other hassles, like skeezy dealers and rips offs and such…but those are minor problems compared to cops. Being paranoid is your best choice because of cops…and if you think you can’t get caught because you’re too smart…BS…once you get stoned or trip…you aren’t that brilliant anymore…you can get caught. You may see yourself as a trippy happy go lucky person who does no harm to anyone…and that may be true…but cops are trained to see you as a combination rabid pitbull/baby rapist on PCP…and it doesn’t matter if its all lies and BS…they will treat you that way.

    If the risks are worth it…if you really want to commit to doing drugs…go into it understanding that you place yourself at risk of violence, jail and permanent poverty resulting from a criminal record…then go and be as safe as you can and have fun…but always remember…your number one problem is cops.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Nailed it. So true. I only fell from grace and encountered trouble with hard drugs…after being lulled into a false sense of security after every soft drug I tried did no harm and contradicted everything I had ever been taught. It’s hard to believe any warnings when the previous 99 have been false flags…but getting people to understand that lies and exaggerations don’t help and actually hurt??? It’s almost an insurmountable task in a culture that lives on delusion.

  • Malk

    thats because you were lied to.
    the way to solve the problem is to tell the truth, and not just about marijuana, but about cocaine and heroin and bath salts and all the other stupid shit american kids are messing with. if they don’t know anything the don’t know any better. if they only know lies, they dont believe anything, and then again they dont know anything. teach the truth, show pictures, use statistics, HEROIN IS BAD, marijuana? not really a big deal… teachers are just too pussy to venture out the civil war/ algebra curriculum, or are being oppressed by their employers/state laws. I know mine were anyway.

  • DeepCough

    Hey, the kids are already using, believe you me, so we may as well teach them the difference between kine bud and schwag.

  • DeepCough

    Hey, the kids are already using, believe you me, so we may as well teach them the difference between kine bud and schwag.

  • justagirl

    yes!  and tin foil hats!!

  • justagirl
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    Parents should teach children the use of seatbelts early on, to promote safety at all times. Try to have a safety check routine when you … Children should also be taught safety measures while on parking lots and school buses. Children should also betaught not to … Since this is a time that children can easily be influenced by their peers, parents should try to tackle sensitive issues like sex education and recreationaldrug use. If your child is ready for these topics, i

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