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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CO: OPED: Use Vs. Abuse
Title:US CO: OPED: Use Vs. Abuse
Published On:2011-12-09
Source:Summit Daily News (CO)
Fetched On:2011-12-15 06:00:25
USE VS. ABUSE

For our kids, it's a critical distinction to learn

Two red, white and blue beer cans sat empty at the bottom of a boy's
bathroom trash can at the high school on Tuesday. Someone had a
couple of PBRs for lunch.

Monday afternoon at 5 o'clock a former student long since departed
from the halls of Summit High strolled into the school. At 5:10 p.m.,
sheriff's deputies escorted the young man out the front door in
handcuffs. He admitted that he sold marijuana to some students.

It's a little pot and a little beer; kids will be kids, harmless,
right? What if the list of drugs in the high school included cocaine?
If the students that I polled can be believed, it's also ecstasy,
LSD, mushrooms, crystal meth and more.

Don't get the impression that this is a majority of our students. It
is not. As one parent lamented: "It's too bad we don't praise the
kids who aren't using drugs." This statement illuminates a new norm
where positive behavior is rewarded as something out of the ordinary.

I admire parents who have guided their children around the pitfalls
of underage drug and alcohol use. It's a commendable achievement
amidst our culture of mixed messages.

Some parents have attained this admirable status by espousing
sobriety and teaching the benefits thereof. Remarkably, some parents
can even do this without engaging in hypocrisy. Their wise children
heed their advice and can either see getting messed up for the bad
choice it is or are willing to learn from the mistakes of others
without making the mistake themselves. Awesome.

I wish everyone were that way. I certainly wasn't. On the contrary, I
wanted to test every theory. No matter how many of Newton's apples
fell to the ground, I somehow thought my apple would be different and
hover or something. But it fell like the rest.

It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to
others. If so, this requires another approach to parenting or
mentoring because "do as I say and not as I do or did" doesn't fly.

You could tell someone who might be contemplating using drugs for the
first time that you would have been better off without those
"experiments" and you're blessed to be alive as I am. In this case, I
compare my old self to an arrow shot wildly off course and suggest
you learn from my mistakes.

In a perfect little world, kids would listen to our warnings and
never touch any of it. Since perfection isn't realistic I would favor
more measures being employed to rid us of this problem and issuing
maximum penalties (expulsion recommendation) for those who bring
drugs into school. Our reputation is at stake.

For people who take the more laissez-faire approach, people who think
I am overreacting, or for parents who supply this stuff knowingly or
unknowingly to their children, then my buddy Jason has some solid advice.

He says to teach them the difference between use and abuse. Getting
high or drinking beer at school is abuse. Driving under the influence
is abuse. Missing school, class, or turning in less than your best
work is abuse. Even coming to school grumpy, rude or belligerent
because you spent the previous evening high or drunk is abuse.

Kids will say it's none of our business what they do outside of
school. True, but they assume incorrectly that what they do outside
the school has no bearing on what they do in the school. It does.

Jason also offered this illustration, "be the Charlie Sheen from
'Young Guns' or 'Major League' and not the Charlie Sheen who lost his
job on television's number one comedy." In short, recognize the
difference between use and abuse.

Jeff McAbee lives in Breckenridge. He's a campus supervisor at Summit
High School. Contact him at jjmcabee@yahoo.com or via Twitter @Jeff_McAbee.
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