In today's society, teenagers are surrounded by drugs. They are discussed, often in a glamorized sense, in the movies and TV shows we watch, the music on our iPods and by the celebrities we idolize. Parents probably already know this. They believe that school systems are teaching their children to say "no," which is in fact the truth. However, the one place that they trust to educate against drugs is actually the "hookup" for many students.
While polling my 11th-grade English class, I found that 52 percent of the students had been offered drugs since starting high school. Yet the most shocking statistic is that 88 percent of the students knew exactly who to talk to if they wanted drugs. One girl stated, "I could walk down to the commons, ask someone for pot, they'd pull it out of their backpack and say, 'Got five bucks?"' Another student said, commenting on the availability in her school, "On a scale of one to 10, it's a 20. I could text some people and literally have it in my hands by the end of school today."
The students questioned were all from different social groups, financial background and races. The "druggie" stereotype has changed. "You can't pin one group of people as the 'potheads,"' said one senior boy. "Every group of friends has the select few that like to party."
Jocks, preps, skaters and honor students alike have been introduced to the world of drugs. Parents need to realize that drugs are accessible to everyone, including their kids. It's time they got involved.
So here's the question I'd like to direct to parents everywhere: How can you, as parents, make a difference?
Simple actions can be the most effective. First, talk to your kids not just about drugs but about life. That can make a huge difference. Letting your kids know you care will affect the choices they make. When asked why he was drug-free, a sophomore boy stated, "I could never let my parents down like that."
Perhaps the most important part of being an involved parent is getting to know your children's friends. One student at Northridge High School said, "Some of my best friends are users ... and my dad is a cop."
The people your children hang out with will greatly determine the kind of people they will become. Parents need to be careful. Really knowing the people your kids spend time with could make all the difference.
And what if you are already an involved parent? What if you have discussed drugs with your kids repeatedly, teaching them all the dangers? That leads to the hardest step: Trust your kids. I know it may seem like taking the back seat to good parenting; however, the fact of the matter is, kids will give respect if they get it. No child wants to disappoint a parent who really cares. And trust can often be the most effective anti-drug you have.
Kids are up against a storm front right now. The world is making it harder and harder to make good choices. But it is not impossible. With a little parental participation, your children will know what to do when they inevitably run into this growing problem in our school system. Take the time, make an effort and protect your kids. It is not an option; rather, it's the obligation of every good parent out there.
Megan Overstreet is a student at Northridge High School in Layton.