Dope wars

We liberal-minded folk know the War on Drugs has been something of a farce; an expensive mistake that hasn't curbed drug use at all. However, I don't expect to hear those sorts of opinions from former undercover cops. Try to ignore it's from FOX news for a minute and take a look at this. As these officers attest, the war on drugs has a lot of negative side effects (no pun intended). It destroys lives when otherwise functional people are sent to jail for possession. And it increases the power of organized crime.

Now people are speaking out about it here in Canada. The message is the same: enforcement is a waste of money and education, research and treatment programs should be a higher priority. Of course, we already have a drug education program: DARE. I went through something called VIP when I was in grade five, but I'm sure it's mostly the same thing: a lengthy tirade about the evils of peer pressure followed by a long list of "don'ts". But we know don'ts are a bad idea, because some of our lovely neighbours to the south teach this wonderful concept called abstinence only in sex ed classes. It doesn't work.

When you think about it, that thing we all snickered about when we were twelve was actually pretty important, wasn't it? I don't know about you, but I don't even consider anything but safe sex. I think sex education had a big part in helping me make the right choices.

Sex and drugs are two very similar things from a teenager's perspective. Both of them involve a lot of peer pressure and both carry a lot of misconceptions. But most importantly, teens are going to both of them whether you want them to or not. Deal with it.

So instead of coming out with a big lecture and a bunch of scare tactics, how about teaching kids about drugs instead of just describing them as scary and awful? No, we don't need classes on how to roll a joint. The message should be the same as with sex ed: we know some of you are going to do it. If you choose to, here's how you can keep from hurting yourself. Stuff like how to recognize the signs of addiction, what to do in the event of an overdose, who to call if things get out of control, and what drugs you should absolutely, positively avoid because they're extremely addictive.

Let's face it, if we don't teach this to them at school they're going to be exposed to it sooner or later. Kids know that every person who does drugs doesn't end up like some messy junky. Let's stop lying to them and give them the information they need to make the right decisions. After all, education is supposed to be about the truth, right?


  1. Anonymous said...
    You make excellent points.
    Sarah O. said...
    You know what's bizarre? I went to very rural schools - the teachers had given up on *real* teaching years earlier, and they were just trying to get everybody to graduate. But they taught three important things: proper sex ed, drug/alcohol education, and environmentalism.

    Maybe b/c they knew a huge proportion of us were just going to stay on the shore forever, they actually *did* teach us about the properties of each drug, and actually did teach a sort of hierarchy, re: addictiveness, probability of ODs, etc. They also taught real sex ed - abstinence was one of many options - and did not instill "da fear of da pregnancy" in us, either. Yet probably only 3 to 6 girls in my highschool of 600 got pregnant (probably 3 chose to carry to term). Weird, eh?

    There's something to be said for their apathy and ours (the students) - eg, b/c they assumed we'd all be "bad-ass" anyway, they gave us the tools we needed to be bad-ass, as safely as possible.
    Adam said...
    Sounds like you had some pretty good teachers. Reminds me of Mrs. Goldhawk, who would shit-talk the principle all class long.

    Anyways, I'm all about safe bad-assedness...I just had to learn a lot of it on my own, but luckily not too late.

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