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School drug forum informs, shocks parents

A presentation on drug use at Mountain View High School last week had plenty of shock value, showing graphic videos of people under the influence jumping out of windows and chewing on walls.

But the presentation did not mention parent-student communication, which a local substance abuse program director said is a key component in dealing with substance abuse, leaving parents to wonder how to communicate their newfound knowledge to their kids.

The Mountain View Police Department brought "High in Plain Sight," a video presentation about drug use by students, to the Spartan Theatre in Mountain View High School on April 3. The presentation was a response, at least in part, to a recent teen drug overdose that hospitalized a student, and comes not long after an out-of-control teen party with drug use ended in an arson fire.

Officer Ron Cooper, the police department's school resource officer, explained the appearance, slang and side effects of a slew of drugs, including synthetic marijuana, "bath salts" and ecstasy.

"Ecstasy will fry your brain cells," said Cooper, explaining that the use of the psychedelic drug MDMA, or ecstasy, has a negative impact on brain activity. Cooper said just one pill of ecstasy can cause brain damage.

Videos in the presentation included a clip of two men smoking "spice," a synthetic form of marijuana, and subsequently breaking a window and falling out of the room. Another video showed three people on ecstasy chewing on their lips and gnawing on the side of a wall.

Cooper went on to inform parents about a homemade version of morphine known as Krokodil, a drug often used as an alternative to heroin. The drug was popularized in Russia, and there was a reported use of Krokodil in Arizona, but there have been no cases in California. Sometimes referred to as a "flesh-eating" drug, the presentation included graphic imagery of people addicted to Krokodil with severe skin and muscle damage.

During the question-and-answer session, parents said they felt more informed about the illegal drugs in circulation, but wanted to know more about what they could do.

"How do we combat this?" one parent asked. Some parents wanted to expose their children directly to the videos and information in the presentation, while others stressed the importance of communicating with their children.

The key is for parents to create an open and honest dialogue with their kids about drugs, according to Veronica Foster, program director for the substance abuse treatment and prevention program at the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC) in Mountain View.

Foster said parents have to have a plan for what they want to say and do when they confront their children about drugs and alcohol, and they need to know the facts, not scare tactics, about the drugs they discuss if they want to be taken seriously.

"Kids today are extremely intelligent, they can look this stuff up," Foster said.

The plan should also include a decisive message that the parents want to give their kids, and make it clear where they stand on the use of drugs and alcohol.

Although it might be good for parents to know about some of the hardcore or "designer" drugs out on the market, Foster said the take-home message should not be that their kids are at risk of taking bath salts. Parents should be more worried about the more commonly abused substances: marijuana, alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs.

Foster said it's important for parents to also avoid being reactive. One of the videos in the presentation showed a mother that discovered her child had drugs delivered to their home, and immediately took them in to the police.

"Don't go straight to reactivity," Foster said. "Parents need to investigate. After gathering the facts, find out if they need a therapist or substance abuse specialist."

Near the end of the presentation, Cooper suggested that parents look through the messages on their children's cellphones to see if they are taking drugs. "Look at your teen's cellphone. Look at it! It's your phone plan," Cooper said.

Foster said that if parents want to teach their children to be open and honest about possible substance abuse, spying on their cellphones and snooping around for information will not help, and teens will feel betrayed.

"If you're going to do that, be ready for the repercussions," Foster said.

Although a number of parents at the presentation repeated the mantra, "You are their parent, not their friend," Foster said it's easy to take that too far.

"You don't want to become the police, you want to be their parent," Foster said. "Kids are more likely to open up if you express appreciation and confidence. It's the only way you're going to get to the heart of the subject."

Comments

Posted by Simple solution, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Don't have kids, have a dog. They don't talk back.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:47 pm

It must be very difficult to get today's teenager's attention talking about drugs and alcohol when some of the parents themselves smoke pot, abuse prescription drugs or indulge in numerous cocktails every evening to unwind.


Posted by Cyndy, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm

What Barry Groves and the school board is not telling all is the increase in drugs, arrests and crime at MVHS. Barry does not want to disclose that the academics are on the down turn with the influx of the english learners at MVHS. Since the move of these students (mainly hispanic) the drug use, crime has gone up and the GPA has gone down. The teachers are noticing it.This resembles the bussing mistakes of years past. My son who graduated last year came back to school over break and did not recognize the place- the demographics have changed and the effects are negative. The high end students and parents are frustrated with the lack of leadership from Barry Groves and the board. There is only 1 board member with students at MVHS and the rest are out of touch. And that does not account for the board members that have been on the board for over 25 years!!!It is time for a change at the top!!!!


Posted by member, a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 12, 2014 at 8:53 am

Cyndy's comment is likely the most ignorant, racist I've seen in some time. I have considerable, and I mean CONSIDERABLE, experience with MVHS and I can tell you from personal experience that it is NOT the "influx of English (sic) learners" who are responsible for the perceived increase in drug use and crime. Best look closer to home folks, the amount of denial and scapegoating is pathetic. Anyone want to talk about the "party gone bad" and who was there??? I'm guessing the "English language learners" didn't start that one.


Posted by Carol, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

I can assure Cyndy that those "high end" students (read "white and upper middle class" I assume) need no help from Latin students in getting sidetracked and into trouble. I agree with the neighbor from Monta Loma that the scapegoating is pathetic. Even worse, it's useless. The best way to address teen drug abuse is for parents and other elders to cultivate an open and attentive relationship with their kids that is non-shaming but holds kids responsible for their behavior. To me, drug use signals boredom and a need for the community to provide more varied activities for youth. Drug abuse however points to a lack of skills in managing emotional distress. For that, there are plenty of supports in the community to help kids develop distress tolerance skills. There are also widely available 12-step groups for those struggling with addiction and for the people who love them. Reason and compassion are key.


Posted by Mr. Lobotomy, a resident of Castro City
on Apr 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

BRAVO CYNDY


Posted by Chester F., a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 15, 2014 at 10:35 am

There were way more drugs when it was called Awalt...believe me!


Posted by Kelsey Rush, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2014 at 4:34 am

I am not affiliated with these schools. I came across this article while searching for information about the drug krokodil reaching the United States, as I, among most others, find it terrifying. That said, what was said about the other drugs is mostly a complete lie (ecstasy does not fry brain cells-the worst damage associated with it is that of dehydration, which its use can certainly cause). While it is important for parents to be educated about drugs and drug use, presenting completely false statements to children in this age of information will likely cause an adverse affect than what is intended. I encourage all parents reading this to scour the internet or whatever legitimate, fact-checked source available to them in order to become fully educated on the actual dangers of these drugs. You see, when teenagers are fed complete lines of crap for so long, they eventually do some experimenting of their own, and when they find that just one "fact" their parents informed them of is blatantly wrong, they have a tendency to completely disregard everything their parents say about anything, because, in their eyes (and reality), their parents are liars. For the sake and safety of your children, please become informed. If your children don't try drugs first, their friends will, and the truth will eventually come out. Besides, wouldn't you have more peace of mind knowing that you've done your research and you know exactly what you need to about the situation? When your children ask questions or are caught doing things they shouldn't be, you will be able to have an honest discussion with them and offer REAL answers. Thanks for your time!


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