Treat, Don't Punish Teen Drug Users

Treat, Don't Punish Teen Drug Users
Posted by CN Staff on August 29, 2002 at 12:35:01 PT
News Story
Source: CBS News
The federal drug director is urging schools to offer help to students who use drugs, not just toss them out. Guidelines in a report released Thursday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy urge treatment and counseling for drug-using high schoolers rather than simply suspending or expelling them. "The goal is to say we believe we can do a better job of making kids healthy," said John P. Walters, who directs the office. Kicking students out of school without treatment can create "drug-using dropouts," an even bigger problem, the report said. 
The advice challenges policies in many districts to automatically suspend or expel students caught with drugs. The new policy was announced a day after the agency released a separate report in Miami showing a decline in first-time marijuana users last year. While that study found fewer adolescents are first-time marijuana users than in previous years, it said those that are risk succumbing to long-term drug addiction. "Marijuana is not the soft drug," Walters said. He said government, community agencies and parents must marshal their powers to prevent and treat marijuana abuse. According to the study, 62 percent of cocaine users aged 26 or older were first-time marijuana users by the age of 14. The idea that marijuana leads to harder drugs was challenged by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, based in Washington D.C., which said only one out of every 104 first-time marijuana users ever uses heroin or cocaine. While the study released Thursday provides guidelines for handling student drug users, final decisions on what to do remain in the hands of school districts. Dan Langan, an Education Department spokesman, said, "The guide is a tool and it's a helpful tool, but how a district and a school choose to implement any recommendations in the guide is up to them." Kathleen Lyons, spokeswoman for the National Education Association, said her group would back the new guidelines. "That's what we would endorse, helping kids, not simply punishing them," she said. "It doesn't do anybody any good just to take a drug test and kick the kid out of school  where's he going to go? It doesn't solve anyone's problem and may in fact worsen it." The guide says schools should "proceed with caution" when testing students for drugs, making sure they "have a good idea of precisely what drugs their students are using" before beginning testing. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that schools can require students to submit to drug tests before participating in competitive after-school activities, even if they have no particular reason to suspect wrongdoing. Drug tests had been allowed previously just for student athletes. That decision gave schools a free hand to test more than half the estimated 14 million American high school students. The court stopped short of allowing random tests for any student, but several justices have indicated they are interested in answering that question at some point. Many schools test athletes for drugs, but wider drug testing remains relatively rare among the nation's 15,500 public school districts. The new guide cautioned that the decision to implement a testing program shouldn't be left up to an individual or even a school board, but should include public input, including that of opponents.Source: CBS NewsPublished: August 29, 2002Copyright: MMII, CBS Worldwide Inc.Website: Articles & Web Site:NORML First-Time Marijuana Users Risk Serious Addiction Marijuana Use Linked to Adult Dependence Say Buying Marijuana Is Easy Teens Say Marijuana Easy To Get 
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on August 30, 2002 at 09:28:39 PT
This concept the gov. is getting into now is kind of like the old Soviet model of molding the Soviet man. Someone that believes the Maxist-Leninists philosophy and dedicated to scientific socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Guess what. It didn't work for them after seventy years of trying (and they tried real hard too)and it won't now. Like the song says, "People got to be free".
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Comment #3 posted by i420 on August 30, 2002 at 05:57:24 PT
Greatr Timing...
The goal is to say we believe we can do a better job of making kids healthy," said John P. Walters, who directs the office. Kicking students out of school without treatment can create "drug-using dropouts," an even bigger problem... No SH!T I think it has only been happening for about 3 decades bout time someone noticed.
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on August 29, 2002 at 21:22:13 PT:
Right On, J R Bob Dobbs
Why is it so easy for them to understand this concept when it comes to kids, but so impossible for them to understand when it comes to adults?The dichotomy is so powerful here as to call into question every aspect of the drug war, yet the drug warriors can't understand their own "reasoning." They are so caught up in their bigotry that they cannot see the human being who uses illegal drugs, instead choosing to see some creature less worthy of compassion than a rabid stray dog with mange. When they see adults who use illegal substances, all they can see is their own hate. Their "logic" is that they have to help kids so that they don't end up being like "those inhuman things who use illegal drugs as adults." We must use their argument about kids against them. We have to take these quotations to the masses and ask them why the standard for kids is to help, yet the standard for adults is to completely and utterly destroy. Dan B
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Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on August 29, 2002 at 16:08:23 PT
High School as life in microcosm
I always thought HS was there to prepare you for "the real world". Well, in the "real world", people lose their jobs, their families, their cars, their houses, and their freedom if they're caught with illegal drugs. Either the penalties in High School should reflect what these kids can expect when they grow up - or perhaps we should't punish ADULT users EITHER!!!
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