Drug debate needs perspective of teens


POSTED: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I read with great interest the article ”;'High' School”; (Star Bulletin, March 21). The article was well written in discussing the data of drug use increasing among teens, according to the random survey of public high school students. However, it was missing the teenager's perspective.

At the beginning of this school year, I decided to transfer to a public school in hopes of taking Advanced Placement classes that my school didn't offer.

I knew that drugs would be there, but I didn't expect to see them used on campus openly. I remember walking to class and being offered what appeared to be a cigarette on my first day. I was shocked by the apathy of some of the students for school rules and their own moral standards. Throughout the day, I was appalled at not only the curriculum displayed in the regular classes, but the social climate around me.

I lasted only a day and a half at this school before I transferred back to my current school.

Many adults don't realize the culture we teens live in. A lot of teens are bullied or teased for not trying drugs. My friend left that same school recently because she was being harassed by a teen boy who was a meth user. There is no way to stay completely sheltered from this environment. Drugs are sometimes perceived as a regular part of daily life.

In the current social culture, the consequences for those actions are not an adequate deterrent. I have friends who used to drink every day after school or smoked pot to feel good. All of these friends have confessed how they regretted doing drugs, because they fell behind in school or felt the negative effects of the various drugs on their bodies.

I cannot emphasize how much of a role parents play in their children's choices to drink or do drugs. Teens often model themselves after their parents. If we have loving, supportive parents, we are more likely to discuss with them issues such as using drugs or alcohol. However, if they are drinking alcohol to excess, teens are more likely to follow their example and get into trouble.

Unfortunately, no matter how much money is invested in drug prevention, drugs will still be available to teens. That doesn't mean we should stop caring, because I know there are ways to regulate drugs in the schools and enforce punishment to those who disobey school rules. Look for examples to certain private and charter schools, which have low drug use by students.

It would be nice for the world to be full of ideal people who have no disputes or bad influences, but in reality there are some bad people out there who accept drugs and other crimes as tolerable. These people often are on this path because of past actions with drugs. I hope the number of teens doing drugs can decrease, but this will happen only with community support and better education about drugs and their effects.

Among all the drug pressures and the culture of rebellion, there are a lot of talented youths who deserve better and are not fairly represented or given opportunities to succeed in the public and private school systems. I urge the government, the community, parents and teens to change the way we handle this issue.

Janae Leilani Rasmussen, of Kailua, is a 10th grader at University Laboratory School.