Drug use demands attention

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Last year, a record number of cases came before the Shelby County Juvenile Court system, and most of the 2,192 petitions filed dealt with teens who had gotten into trouble with drugs and alcohol.

That&8217;s not to say a larger percentage of kids are drinking, smoking or shooting up-it&8217;s just a sign that more and more people are choosing to call Shelby County home.

However, teen drug use is real and no area of the county is immune from the problem.

Rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural: drug use is fairly evenly distributed among race and class lines, and as Chief Probation Officer John Miller said, drugs are in every one of our schools.

However, there are still several ways to lower the number of users and make sure our teens are safe and drug free.

First, it&8217;s imperative children are taught from an early age about the consequences of substance abuse. Shelby County Schools already have great drug preventions programs such as DARE and Project Alert, which educate kids against the dangers of drugs from as early as the fifth-grade.

The school system also employs deterrents such as a strict no tolerance policy and random drug testing for students who park on campus.

But the biggest difference can be made at home. Miller said drugs and alcohol are much more accessible today than when he first started as a probation officer.

Teens today have more money than in the past and are at home alone for longer times.

To really make an impact, Miller recommended parents get more involved and ask more questions about what&8217;s going on in teenager&8217;s lives.

The prodding, which might draw the wrath of some 16-year-olds, may make all the difference