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Article026 - Drugs
Article supplied by Constable Stephen Clark has appeared in Crime Zero and is reproduced to ensure maximum exposure.

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21st September 2010
Drugs - Stephen Clark

For anyone who watched M-Net’s “Carte Blanche” on Sunday 25 June, the facts were quite scary. Children as young as NINE years old are being caught with hard drugs and treated in rehabilitation facilities.

For all the parents or even grandparents reading this, get the words “Oh them” out of your heads. Drugs do not discriminate on racial grounds or cultural backgrounds. For all you know, the kid in the room with you right now has already experimented or is using some form of narcotic. Evil’s best friend is denial. Like the old saying goes, it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in the devil, He believes in you.

My true belief is that good parenting and open, honest communication between adults and children is the key to not even starting the problem. I have had parents come to me with their 16 year old son. “DO something,” they order me “He is out of control!” My simple answer to that is, “Where have you been while he was getting worse? Where have you been for the last 16 years? Why did you wait so long to get help?

If a child is curious about something and you say, “Don’t touch that. That is not for you!” What have you done other than prick his curiosity even further? When my father threatened to skin me alive if he caught me drinking before I was 18, all I did was make sure he never caught me. Surely it would be better if we explained, to even a small child, why they should not touch or play with a certain thing. This can apply from prescription pills to kitchen knives.

We need to be on an equal footing in knowledge about drugs and similar things. If we can’t have an intelligent conversation with our kids other than saying “Don’t do that.” they will laugh us off as ignorant. How can adults guide and teach the youth if we know nothing about what is going on in their lives?

I encourage as many parents as possible to read up on what drugs are available and what they do to a person. Find out where they are sold, how much they cost and then look at where your child goes and how much they are spending. Educate yourself. It is firstly empowering, but also you can recognise symptoms of abuse early and make rational decisions about what to do next. If your son is smoking dagga because its escapism from bullies at school, will getting hysterical and punishing him help or harm the situation? If you are not able, get a councillor to assist you.

If you honestly do not know what dagga or even cocaine looks or smells like, ask me, ask someone. Support is available if you want it, but dare I remind you about denial?

I really need to talk about one drug in particular. It kills tens of thousands of people a year. A dozen or more innocent people can be killed in an instant by one abuser. It is advertised in public media, widely distributed and even given away for free. Best of all, it’s legal. Alcohol.

I dare not light a cigarette at an outdoor cricket stadium, but I can get blind drunk and fall about to my heart’s content. What example are we giving our children when we drink around them? Does your daughter or son see you drag yourself home, get half undressed in the passage and fall asleep noisily on the stairs? Are you even mildly surprised when the Principal of their school phones and tells you dagga was found in their possession? Yes, it is the same thing. If you as an adult abuse something, your child will follow suit. You are the role model. No excuses. A young person lacks one very important factor in their lives, the wisdom of age. Bluntly, they don’t know any better if you don’t show them. If you drink alcohol, that is your choice as an adult. Do so responsibly and be aware that little eyes are watching you.

Be more interested in your child’s life. They are currently spending 95% of it buried in a cell phone chat room. Who are they talking to? What about? You have the right to know what your son or daughter puts on the internet. It is NOT private. It is in a public medium that anyone can see. This is not about draconian, dark ages, Inquisition. What moral has changed about being a good parent since cell phones were invented? It is about being involved with your child, really caring, not like caring whether they did their homework, but caring and loving to the point that your son will actually tell you that someone offered him dagga. I’m not like a lot of people, but I would burst with pride if my son did that. Because then I would know that every good thing I had taught him up to that moment, worked.