Illegal drug use is greatly hurting our adolescents today, and in their future. It is in the mind of every parents and public alike. Yet with the scare of hurting the lives of the future, why is it that the government is not doing anything about it? From the start of the discovery of marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drugs, the public has noticed the negative outcomes and consequences of using them. They are illegal for a reason! “No one has figured out what the exact social costs of legalizing marijuana would be. But ephemeral taxes won’t cover them – nor should society want to encourage easier access to a drug that can lead to dependency, has health risks, and reduces alertness, to name just a few of its negative outcomes.” (Christian Science Monitor) Through personal observation, teens from age thirteen and up (sometimes even younger), already have the peer pressure to smoke, drink, be violent and be sexually active. Although all are harmful, taking a step forward by preventing illegal drugs from getting into the system of children in the future may help to stop the causes of the other pressures. Proposing to stop it from the start, may cause the mainstream trend of drugs to come to a halt. Stopping and convicting people who distribute the drugs is a good way to help stop the spread of the substances, but more money needs to go to preventing it. By added demands for prevention through media, parental support, and government laws, illegal drugs may become a scare of the past, not a trend for the future.
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“Purple haze all in my brain . Lately things don’t seem the same . Acting funny and I don’t know why . Excuse me while I kiss the sky” (Jimi Hendrix) an example of a popular song by Jimi Hendriz called “Purple Haze”. Other examples are, “Because I Got High” by Afroman, “Purple Pills” by Eminem and many others that are heard by teens today, and are a typical topic, especially by rock and rap groups. Movies like “Pineapple Express”, “Thirteen” and many shows on TV are also examples of how mainstream drug-use has become. From seeing it on TV, movies, and listening to the lyrics of music, from many popular bands and artists; it makes kids curious to try it. Seeing drunk or high celebrities, put together an idea in their mind that drugs will make them popular, cool, and pretty, like their favorite media icon. “Paris Hilton goes clubbing nonstop, and gets arrested for DUIs, which led her to jail. Amy Winehouse is an alcoholic and a drug user…” (Goldberg, Rachel) These are examples of media idols that children look up to everyday. How can this be fixed? By preventing this spread of “bad media”, this will make drug-use less mainstream, and more extinct, and wrong. By promoting more PG shows on TV, commercials about the effects, and less songs about drugs in general; it will become the strongest impact on this ongoing “drug war”. Using the popularity of the media to show more of the penalty of drug use, not only in the present, but in their future; by adverting in songs, movies, TV shows, and commercials, can really make a difference in a young teen’s life.
Although celebrities are becoming bad influences in every child’s life, there are people that should be their role model and keep them grounded through all the pressures of existence. Guardians, providers, protectors, teachers (etc.) all words to describe a parent; people that have their kids’ back, a shoulder to cry on, forgive a child when their wrong, yet why are parents scared of taking their responsibility of protection through education. By educating an adolescent (within the right age), it may help protect them and help them make hard decisions in their life, like drug use. Through a survey conducted by Ipos Public Affairs, “63 percent of teens say that having their parents tell them about past alcohol or drug use would make them more responsible about their own drug and alcohol use.” (Walsh, Paul) Every child is taught at a young age to always be honest. However parents are scared to take their own life lesson. Through the survey “67% of the parents have already told their teens about their past” (Walsh, Paul), which “95 percent of these teens approved of that kind of honesty” (Walsh, Paul). Although how are teens going to learn to make the right decisions? As a child, almost all adolescents’ role model is their father or mother. It’s who they look up to all their life. Parents then later try to stay within the same level with their child, so they can gain trust into the teenage mind. Every parent wants to be the person their kids go to when something is wrong, yet with parents’ high expectations on their children, they want to always seem superior to their child. On the other hand, almost every parent has gone through the same peer pressure and had to make the same decisions. Not all parents are perfect, so by telling a child his or her own personal experiences, the kids are likely to understand the consequences, and how it may hurt their future. By taking a step back from the parental superiority role, they can become eye to eye to their child, to get them to understand that the consequences aren’t just something they hear, it’s something that could happen to them. Another action that could be used to help this infection of peer pressure is just by bounding. Family game night, talking to their children, and family dinners, can really have an effect on a child to keep distracted and stay out of the “bad crowd”. It’s also a way to help remind the child, his or her importance in the family, and the love-ones around them.
With family support, there also needs to be governmental support to PREVENT all these drug issues from getting to more and more teens. “97% of the 467.7 billion a year that federal, state, and local government spend on substance abuse is used to deal with consequences such as crime and homelessness” (Berman, Jillian), a shocking statistics from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, talking about where the taxpayers’ money is going to. “58% of that money goes to health care cost, while 13.1 % goes to prosecuting and jailing” (Berman, Jillian). Yet why is the money being used to help the after cause, when it could be used to prevent all this from happening in the first place. The government would lose less money on doctor visits, and hospital care for drug abusers, if more of the taxpayers’ money went to advertising and nonprofit organizations such as DARE, Every Fifteen Minutes, Communities Care, and Hit The Streets. These types of outreach organizations teach a child to realize the outcome of bad decisions, like drugs use, in a fun, but informative setting. For example, Every Fifteen Minutes, takes a child from a classroom, to show the other classmates left in the class, the impact of drug use, and how many people are effected and die from it every day. This type of visual and interaction gets a kid to really think about their choices, and how it may affect themselves, as well as the people around them. These groups help to make the right decision in the first place and just say no!
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Through all this, prevention will make the biggest impact on a young child’s mind. They will never forget the pledge they make at their DARE graduation ceremony, to not do drugs, or an advertisement seen on TV. Although it may not stop every child from caving into the peer pressure or curiosity, it will help to minimize the growing rate of children to try drugs in general. There is also an understanding, that illegal drugs are good for the economy to keep moving, but at the same time, the government is spending the money they earn, on the health effects of drugs. Focusing more on prevention, will not only save money, but make a bigger impact, because the less children looking for drug providers, the less profit they gain, and less of them around. It’s all a domino effect, but in a positive direction. Now it’s time for the media, parents and government to take their position, and eliminate this ongoing problem. Children need to be protected, and by protecting them, the less drug abusers in the coming future.
- Berman, Jillan. “Drug-abuse funding skimps on prevention; Most goes toward health costs, study finds.” USA Today 28 May 2009, Life sec.: D.5. ProQuest Newstand. Web. 10 Nov. 2009. <http://proquest.umi.com.ndcproxy.mnpals.net/pqdweb?index=6&did=1777626991&SrchMode=5&Fmt=3&retrieveGroup=0&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1257854080&clientId=27651>.
- Goldberg, Rachel. “LIKE IT OR NOT, CELEBRITIES REMAIN ROLE MODELS TO KIDS.” ProQuest Newstand. 17 Mar. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. <http://proquest.umi.com.ndcproxy.mnpals.net/pqdweb?index=0&did=1663533231&SrchMode=5&Fmt=3&retrieveGroup=0&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1259533425&clientId=27651>.
- Hendrix, Jimi. “Purple Haze.” Lyrics. Are You Experienced? Hal Leonard Music Publishing, 1967.
- “Legalize Marijuana? Not So Fast.” Christian Science Monitor 22 May 2009, EDITORIAL; Pg. 8 sec. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 30 Oct. 2009. <https://normandale.ims.mnscu.edu/d2l/orgTools/ouHome/ouHome.asp?ou=868319>.
- Walsh, Paul. “Parents should fess up about drug and alcohol use, kids say: Hazelden survey: Most teens say hearing their parents’ drugs-and-drinking stories would make them more responsible. Parents worry kids might follow their example.” Tribune Business News [Washington] 10 Oct. 2009. ProQuest Newstand. Web. 10 Nov. 2009. <http://proquest.umi.com.ndcproxy.mnpals.net/pqdweb?index=0&did=1876589601&SrchMode=1&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1257872271&clientId=27651>.
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