Drugs in our schools Part II
Adults desperately want to see our young people thrive. We want to help equip them to meet whatever the future holds. One of the first steps we can take is to admit that there are areas where we have let our teens down. Then we must improve our performance and in doing so, offer them a better life. There are at least five groups that have, over the years, let things slip. With a minimal effort each group must make the decision to work together to improve the present and future lives of our young people.
Parents and extended family: The structure of our families has changed over the years. Regardless, it is still possible to reconnect and forge strong bonds that will allow time for honest and sincere conversations. The ideal time and place for this to happen is around the supper table. It is also very beneficial to families to find a common project where each member can contribute time and energy. It is a very positive way for family groups to have a profound impact on the lives of others.
Community: There are so many individuals and groups that need to step up to the challenge of participating in the upbringing of our young people. Coaches, politicians, fire-fighters, sports teams, and youth clubs all can provide a structure for youths who find themselves at a crossroad where one good nudge will propel them towards a successful future. The first meeting a teen should have with a police officer should be in a positive social setting.
Religious institutions: One big area where we can improve the lives of our youth is in their spiritual growth. There are a number of faith-based youth groups that are very welcoming. They offer free evenings of social activities and intellectual pursuits. It is in this type of environment that many people discover their reason for living and begin their pursuit of a purpose driven life. Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues should expand their missions beyond their existing congregations. It is time for them to reach out to the young people in their communities.
Local businesses: Business people understand the value of a good investment. Donating time, energy, and occasionally money allows even the smallest of corner stores to become an active member of the community they are already serving through the provision of goods and services. It is good business to build up good will. Companies can sponsor a program, provide uniforms, donate food or beverages to an event and in doing so they will undoubtedly reap a bountiful reward – perhaps even some new customers!
Schools: When all others abdicate their responsibility, teachers and administrators find themselves in the default position for raising our youth. Educators are in the position to make an incredible impact in many young people’s lives. Let’s make our classes interesting and informative. Let’s go to the margins and invite all students into our class discussions. Let’s step up and model how exciting life can be when one is doing what one loves and living to his or her fullest potential. We have chosen to be teachers. Let’s always go the extra mile – stay after school and open our classrooms to students who need a safe place to study or a caring person to talk to.
Years ago an anti-drug campaign ran under the slogan, “just say ‘no’ to drugs.” That approach fell flat because just saying ‘no’ is negative, it doesn’t deal with root problems and it leaves a vacuum that needs to be filled. Young people respond much better to an offer of a better life. Instead of just saying ‘no’ young people will, more often than not, say ‘yes’ when they are presented with hope and healthier options. In our fast-paced, multicultural, post-modern world sometimes it takes more than a village to raise a child. Sometimes it takes everyone!