Friday, September 29, 2023

Compass Points 5.10.2006

By Al Campbell

When Middle Township Elementary No. 2 fifth graders joined the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) graduation April 28 at the Performing Arts Center, aspirin was probably the strongest drug present, and that in parents’ pocketbooks.
 The giggly, rambunctious class members sported uniform gray T-shirts. As expected, the pupils possessed more energy than a nuclear reactor.
 Under direction of Middle Township Patrolman Fran Fiore, D.A.R.E. coordinator, the event highlighted the anti-drug class exercises done by D.A.R.E. officers Sgt. Pasquale Conte, Cpl. Jeff DeVico, and Officers Jennifer Moore and Mark Higginbottom.
 There were skits and dances, and presentation of top prizes, a bike, skim board and skateboard, for outstanding essays on the anti-drug subject.
 Democratic Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Jeff Van Drew were there, too. A drunk driver killed Albano’s son, one of the drugs the youngsters learned about in their course.
 D.A.R.E. courses used to be given in later school years. A sad commentary on our society, it was generally felt that it is never too early to teach children about the evils of drugs. So now, the lessons are being taught sooner than ever.
 I wonder about the long-term impact the D.A.R.E. course will have on those youngsters.
 Will that fifth grade lesson of saying “No!” stick with them? When the opportunity arrives, eventually, as we know it very likely will, does that D.A.R.E. course instill the necessary fortitude for them to refuse that illicit sniff of white powder or ingest that uncertain pill?
 Those who believe it does are deluding themselves.
 If a seed is planted in a garden, chances are good that it will sprout. How well it grows after it pops out of the ground is largely up to the gardener, not the seed.
 Would any parent, in good conscience, believe that a Thanksgiving banquet, filled with every good thing imaginable to eat, would be sufficient a meal to last for the rest of a child’s life? Hardly.
 The very same philosophy follows with the anti-drug message taught by those five police officers.
 Fifth grader Angel Saclayan, who won the top prize of a bike, may think back in future years about her essay on the anti-drug theme. Like her classmates, she will need nurturing and constant reinforcement to continue to live the message about which she wrote.
 Put yourself in the place of those children, not only in Middle Township, but also in every other D.A.R.E. class around the county and country.
 What message do they read day after day about drugs?
 Law enforcement makes busts routinely, some larger than others. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of dope are taken as evidence; drug money is confiscated, as are cars, boats and airplanes.
 Regardless, drug traffickers keep the stuff coming across the borders, or producing it in garages and barns across the nation.
 If there were no market, the illicit supply would stop.
 Drugs, aside from being illegal, are big business. Where there is a demand, supply follows.
 That’s what boggles my mind. Daily, we get police reports about drug arrests. It’s enough to make a body want to scream.
 Some of those arrested are young, others middle aged; occasionally even a senior citizen is nabbed.
 What did they see in drugs that was enough to get them arrested?
 Was their life so worthless that a quick drug fix helped them escape reality for a brief moment? Did they need money so badly that they took to peddling the dope for a quick buck?
 Those who sell drugs and get jail time are just another burden to society and a shame upon their families.
 If they are adults (???) and have young children, there is an extra burden of the state taking care of those children.
 Many say that drugs hurt no one but themselves, so why are they illegal? If only they would look around at the pain and suffering to their families.
 Still, hope abounds. Maybe, just maybe, that fifth grade class will have learned the real lesson about drugs. Perhaps it will start a wave of young people who to refuse crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other mind and body killers.
 If that would happen, I would recommend those five D.A.R.E. officers for meritorious commendation medals.

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