Taking the Dare

Published 4:27 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

“There is an invisible line that people cross when they descend into true drug addiction — a line of no return.”

Retired Pelham health teacher Charlotte Rowland spoke this haunting line to me the other day. When I asked her how we keep people from crossing that line, Charlotte said firmly, “We teach them.”

Pelham’s D.A.R.E. officer Carrie Bowman said people frequently ask her if we have a drug problem in Pelham.

“As long as there is one person in our community who has a drug problem, we have a drug problem—because we are our brother’s keeper,” Bowman said.

Officer Bowman has been the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer in Pelham schools for 12 years. Teaching students how to stay drug free is her passion. Her presence in our schools is made possible because the community—including city and school leaders—is committed to doing everything possible to keep our children drug free. This commitment does not end with the D.A.R.E. program.

On March 24 and 26, our schools and community will join forces again to bring Bob Stutman, veteran U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, to deliver a powerful presentation in the Pelham High School Auditorium from 7–9 p.m.

Drug dependency is increasing at an alarming rate nationwide. To think we’re immune from a national epidemic hints of denial. The truth is drug dependency affects entire families and has far-reaching consequences.

While visiting the area, Stutman will speak to students, parents and community leaders about the dangers associated with new drugs hitting the market and offer strategies for keeping abreast of new drug dangers. A local parent who has heard Stutman speak states that she has “never heard a speaker with a more passionate, clear, and practical message.”

Educating our children about the dangers of drugs is a beginning, but to win the war against drugs, we must educate ourselves.

Pelham Councilwoman Karyl Rice summed up the absolute truth best, “If hearing Bob Stutman’s message saves one life, bringing him to Pelham has been worth all of our efforts.”