George Will’s article (Times 4/5/12), “Should U.S. legalize drugs?” needs national discussion. Will states, “20 percent of all prisoners – 500,000 - are incarcerated for dealing drugs and alcohol causes half of criminal violence.” Interdiction and incarceration cost billions…some say, “Let’s just try legalization.”
Today, drugs impact children as young as ten, sniffing, puffing and drinking for a thrill or to feel good. Adults should ask…why are young people using drugs instead of learning how to live happy, healthy, productive lives?
Drugs have been around for centuries! As a mother, grandmother and crime prevention specialist for 35 years, I have seen American values, attitudes and parenting skills change which fueled the drug epidemic.
Families grew weaker. A growing number of “helicopter parents” don’t let children make mistakes, solve problems or suffer the consequences for bad behavior. Continually hovering, rescuing and controlling a child’s life, takes away their self-confidence, making him or her dependent. Children become targets for bullies.
Sensitive children suffer in silence as they struggle to fit in and be accepted. They don’t know how to handle rejection, failure, humiliation or bullying and focus on emotional pain, which leads to depression.
Without self-awareness, children become followers or may bully others because they are not on a path to discover their own identity. They feel powerless and escape in drugs, which masks the real problem. They have not been taught how to cope with the “slings and arrows” of life!
WHAT CAN ADULTS DO?
Children need two major factors to help them take responsibility for their future.
1. Learn to live by their inner spirit to grow strong and resilient.
2. Networks of support help youth develop healthy relationships.
The media bombards children with beautiful people, sex and violence. Parents can find emotional support in churches or synagogues, which provide mentors and role models. Connected children do not become socially isolated or turn to drugs.
Children need self-confidence to say NO to drugs, sex and abuse. Self-aware children learn to trust their conscience, intuition and instincts, which can protect them. A foundation of values leads to happy, healthy, productive youth.
Legalize drugs? Let’s focus on children growing from their spirit, not inflated egos of, “I am right,” “You are wrong.” When young people are on a path of self-discovery, they pursue their dreams and see no need to abuse drugs to feel good.
Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant