Keeping drug use down

As part of Red Ribbon Week, members of the Chelsea Middle School Youth Empowerment Program encouraged their fellow students to walk away from peer pressure to smoke or take that first drink of alcohol.

It is great students are being reminded of theses dangers, but as young people are now exposed to pressures at a much earlier age, we agree with Principal William Harper of Chelsea Middle that the dangers connected with alcohol and tobacco need to be worked into a school&8217;s curriculum.

While movies glamorizing smoking and drinking are aimed at adult audiences, such entertainment usually finds its way into the home. And while parents must do everything in their power to limit their children&8217;s exposure, they must also educate their children to the dangers of smoking and drinking.

It is often argued that one cannot legislate morality, but teaching children the facts through health and science classes is obviously one way to help counter the bombardment of images from entertainment sources.

In 2004, the results of a survey of Shelby County Schools published in the Shelby County Reporter showed monthly use of alcohol and tobacco at the middle school level was on the rise, along with illicit drug and marijuana experimentation. According to survey results, some 9.6 percent of students admitted to using alcohol monthly. About 6.2 percent admitted to monthly use of illicit drugs. Monthly tobacco use among middle school students was 9.4 percent.

A report from the U.S. Department of Education notes: &8220;Tobacco use is associated with alcohol and illicit drug use and is generally the first drug used by young people who enter a sequence of drug use that can include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and harder drugs.&8221;