When Wichita police served a no-knock warrant at her home - a suspected crack house - they found a page ripped from a Big Chief tablet taped to her bedroom door.

On it was printed: "Read the d----- sign. No drugs, alcohol or pipes in my room. Keep them out."

When officials entered her room, they found literature and posters bearing anti-drug and resiliency messages.

Following the drug bust, Chautrese, then 11, was placed with her grandmother. Two weeks later, her grandmother was killed in a drive-by shooting, said James Copple, executive deputy director for the National Crime Prevention Council.

Copple, then an assistant school superintendent who was working with the police gang unit, met up with the girl a few years later after community leaders organized a tutoring program in which middle school students would assist elementary school-age kids. She was one of the peer tutors.

"She told me `Hey, guess what I'm going to be? A teacher.' "

Against all odds, she did. The girl who was savvy enough to overcome the dysfunction of the drug world is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas and has landed her first teaching job.

Copple, keynote speaker at the 20th Annual Fall Conference on Substance Abuse held at the Provo Marriott Hotel, tells the story to illustrate the importance of giving children a focus of control.

What made the difference in Chautrese's life was "she grabbed on to something and people grabbed onto her."

Copple knows first-hand what a difference "significant adults" can make in a child's life.

When Copple's alcoholic father would disappear for three weeks at a time during a drunken binge, a neighbor would offer to play baseball with Copple.

"That adult relationship became an anchor in a very stormy life."

Copple told substance abuse, law enforcement and prevention specialists that children need the opportunity to acquire skills and interests that help them gain self-confidence.

Copple's daughter, Jessica, is in seventh grade. She has been offered drugs 45 times in her school career.

She has been taught when she is in a situation over her head she can summon help from her parents by calling them on the telephone and inquiring: "How did grandpa's surgery go?"

"That's our signal to go and pick her up," Copple said.

During a recent sleep-over, Jessica was offered marijuana and cocaine.

She then called home to inquire about "grandpa's surgery."

When Copple picked her up, she revealed her personal strategy to refusing drugs. "I don't know if it's true or not, but I told them that smoking marijuana stunts breast growth. That's a very important thing to a 12 year-old girl," she said.

"I knew then she was her dad's kind of activist," Copple said.

Copple kicked off the three-day conference, which has been linked to a yearlong effort by the Utah Council for Crime Prevention to stem the incidence of crime in Utah.

To Patrick Fleming, assistant director of the Utah State Division of Substance Abuse, the linkage is appropriate since many prison inmates have substance abuse problems or were intoxicated when they committed their offenses.