Here's a wake-up call for parents of high school students: Most teens know exactly where to go if they've got spare cash and want to buy illegal drugs.
"It's so easy," was the unanimous response of the current members of The Courier-Journal's High School Round Table when asked if it would be difficult for them to buy drugs.
Federal studies conducted in 2005 show that American teens use marijuana more than any other drug. Half of all respondents reported having tried drugs by the end of high school.
Round Table members also discussed the dangers of drug use and whether some drugs should be legalized.
The Round Table dates to 1983. This year's members were chosen from 210 applicants. Here are excerpts from their recent conversation:
Raven Railey: Where could you get drugs if you wanted them?
Hazel Levine, 16, a junior at St. Francis High School: I guess when we are signing out for lunch, it would be easy to do a drug deal. But it would be pretty obvious if you were doing a drug deal at school, especially when the student-teacher ratio is really small. If three girls are going to the bathroom with backpacks on, that looks moderately suspicious.
Ethan Walker-Seim, 15, a junior at Atherton High School: It's more after school, right after school lets out. It's not that hard.
Nicole Spanjers, 16, a sophomore at Pleasure Ridge Park High School: You could do it during lunch, in the courtyard, bathroom-anywhere.
Jazmine Wiggins, 15, a sophomore at Doss High School: People smoke weed outside of our school every morning. You can smell that stuff, and you can see them.
Nick Hebert, 14, a freshman at Floyd Central High School: At Floyd Central, they have really tightened security, and we have police officers all over the place. (But) if they are determined to get drugs, then they will get it.
Railey: Do your peers mostly use marijuana, as the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) study suggests?
Hazel: There are also kids abusing Adderall for studying purposes. Kids are doing acid and mushrooms. That's kind of common, but it's not a drug that people use as often. So I would say that it's mainly weed. I consider alcohol a drug, so that's like every weekend kids are using that.
Kailey Kilmartin, 17, a senior at North Oldham High School: Marijuana is what I hear about the most.
Nick Hebert: Alcohol is a big tradition in a lot of people's families, and it's really easy to get.
Kenny Radcliffe, 16, a junior at South Oldham High School: Marijuana is the biggest one, but drinking is the major problem. LSD and acid, whenever kids have these techno raves.
Nick Thompson, 16, a junior at Trinity High School: Pot is used a lot. But there are also a lot of prescription drugs going around. I have a prescription for Adderall, and people are always trying to get it from me.
Samantha Cook, 16, a junior at Our Lady of Providence: People know that I have had to be on painkillers for medical reasons. A lot of people ask me if I have any left over. I always tell them no.
Hazel: Weed is a big issue, but I think that the prescription painkillers are an even bigger issue because kids can more easily get them. Parents can just leave it in their cabinet, kids take it, and parents have no idea what's going on.
Railey: How should schools discourage drug use?
Ethan: I think any school penalty that impacts the education is completely bogus. Let's say that you have got a kid who is not too keen on coming to school. He smokes weed. Maybe his coolest thing about going to school is playing on a football team. He gets caught smoking weed; he gets thrown off of the football team. Why is he going to come to school? He's just going to blow it off.
Kenny: If you do drugs in school, then you should be expelled for that. I don't think that the school should have any say in outside school activities.
Nick Hebert: We have to take some action against those kids because if we are not, it's not really discouraging drug use. In Floyd County, they have programs such as Wellstone. If you get caught with drugs and they see that you are trying to make an effort to do better, then they will send you to that and keep you in a school program.
Kailey: I think we have a major problem with awareness still. In middle school and in elementary school we would get talks all the time on how alcohol was so bad and drugs were so bad. Then in high school, they kind of give up on us, it seems. Most kids' parents work, so if they get suspended they go out and do some more drugs.
Sheena Brown, 16, a junior at Kentucky Country Day School: Last year a lot of parents I know (were) sending their children into rehab. Maybe you need to spend more time with your child and ask them what is going on, instead of saying, "I am going to send you off, I can't deal with you."
Nick Hebert: A lot of them (students who do drugs) don't have a good connection with their parents. I think the school does need to be there because a lot of the role models for those children are their coaches and their teachers.
Kenny: I am pretty sure that a lot of kids, they did drugs because they were just offered it. It's not like they had a bad life as a child.
Railey: Does your school do any form of drug testing?
Samantha: Last year a couple of kids got caught with drugs. They told them that they were going to do drug testing once a week or they'd have to be expelled. They decided to get expelled (rather) than to get drug tested. Our school now has alcohol Breathalyzers before every dance. People at dances don't come drunk anymore. They are thinking about doing it (using Breathalyzers) before every basketball game or football game now.
Kenny: I know a lot of kids that play sports do drugs. I am pretty sure that if they did drug tests that they wouldn't be on the sports teams.
Nick Hebert: You have a right to your privacy. My school does not do drug testing.
Kailey: My school does drug testing if you are an athlete. You have to sign a waiver at the beginning of the year that you can be subject to random drug testing. Once every season-fall, winter and spring - -- they come around to the classes and call a random team out.
Hazel: My school doesn't do drug testing. If parents want to randomly test their kids, that's their decision, but it's not and should never be the decision of the schools to drug test students.
Railey: What do you think are the greatest dangers of drug use?
Kenny: Some are so addicted to certain drugs that they go so far as to use horse tranquilizers to get high. I think that is pretty messed up.
Ethan: You get caught doing something, like you smoke a little weed, and you can get completely screwed over. That can kill your job opportunities later in life. That can keep you from applying for federal college aid. That can limit where you go to school. That's a way worse penalty to me than anything that it actually does to you physically.
Hazel: The real danger is not what kids are doing, but it's what they are not doing. They get high and they sit on a couch for six hours and eat a ton of junk food. They are not doing anything productive for their lives.
Kailey: Drugs just really mess up your life and they lead down a path that has violence and broken friendships and lost opportunities.
Nick Hebert: It messes up the whole spectrum of your life. That's one of the reasons for divorce, for early pregnancies, (for) a lot of criminals.
Jazmine: They say that the reason why kids and teens do all these drugs is because they feel pressured. I understand that, but you have got to know how to control that pressure. You have to know how to make the right decisions.
Hazel: I think the fact that weed is illegal and alcohol is legal is ridiculous. I think that they cause different long-term effects, but they are basically relative.
Kenny: A lot more kids who are afraid to do it would think that it would be OK to smoke if it was legal.
Nick Thompson: If it became legal, all it would do is make it more expensive for people that do it. They could put taxes on it and it would slow down a lot of gang violence, crimes and selling in schools.
Ethan: If you are caught dealing or using cocaine, there is a much, much smaller penalty than if you are caught dealing or using crack, which is a very similar substance. The only explanation for that is that rich, white people use cocaine.
Hazel: People usually think that drugs are more prevalent in a bad neighborhood or a school that's not too prestigious, but drugs are quite rampant where students have really good economic backgrounds. They can afford coke. They can afford to buy Adderall. They can afford weed. Their parents have no idea what they are spending all their allowance money on.
Teens And Drugs
Federal studies conducted in 2005 showed that:
41% of 8th-graders, 73% of 10th-graders and 86% of 12th-graders consider marijuana easily accessible.
25% of students nationwide had been offered, sold or given an illegal drug by someone on school property in the previous year.
10% of teens 12 to 17 were current illicit drug users: 6.8% used marijuana, 3.3% used prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes, 1.2% used inhalants, 0.8% used hallucinogens, and 0.6% used cocaine.
(Figures add up to more than 100 percent because some teens use more than one drug.)
78% of students 12 to 17 had seen or heard drug-or alcohol-prevention messages at school in the previous year. Those exposed to such messages were less likely to have used drugs in the past month.
Source: Students Against Destructive Decisions (sadd.org/stats.htm#druguse)
"People smoke weed outside of our school every morning. You can smell that stuff, and you can see them." -- Jazmine Wiggins, Doss High School
"If it became legal they could put taxes on it and it would slow down a lot of gang violence, crimes and selling in schools." -- Nick Thompson, Trinity High School
"You could do it (get drugs) during lunch, in the courtyard, bathroom-anywhere." -- Nicole Spanjers, Pleasure Ridge Park High School "Most kids' parents work, so if they get suspended they go out and do some more drugs." -- * Kailey Kilmartin, North Oldham High School
"Maybe you need to spend more time with your child and ask them what is going on, instead of saying, 'I am going to send you off, I can't deal with you.'" -- Sheena Brown, Kentucky Country Day School
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