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Drug dealing and schools

By George Greger-Holt
Posted Sunday, April 2, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC - I understand your frustration with the drug problem among youth in Chatham County. I have worked with youth for the past 25 years on just the problems you identified. To depend on law enforcement alone to solve this problem is destined to cause you and others who care about our young people to continue to feel powerless and discouraged. While law enforcement needs to be a part of the solution, we as citizens and especially parents need to get involved.

Last Tuesday, the Chatham Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth (not affiliated with the Chatham Coalition for Effective Communities) held a town hall meeting at Silk Hope School. Town hall meetings were held across the country, primarily concerning underage alcohol use. We attempted to broaden the topic to include school safety issues and publicized the event through several media outlets (Chatlist included). Years of experience have taught us that a community on drug use does not draw the number of people we need to create a change in culture among our young people.

Unfortunately, the result was the same as it has been for the 25 plus years I have been working with substance abuse issues and community involvement. Only five people attended the meeting, one more than the number of presenters present. In the fall, we co-hosted a similar meeting at Jordan-Matthews High School in cooperation with the Mental Health Association of Chatham County. The result the same, with seven people attending.

We have a meeting planned for this coming Thursday at Northwood High School to cultivate interest for Project Graduation. Our last meeting drew seven people. Project Graduation is our communities way of telling our youth how much we care about their safety, not only on graduation night, but throughout the year.

What do you think this tells our youth? They are watching us all the time. While I appreciate all the people that have attended these events and help with the projects we are planning, we need more help. Yes, we need law enforcement as partners, but we also need the collective community it rise up and speak with one voice.

The Chatham Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth will continue to host parent meetings and Project Graduation will be held as it has been for the past 16 years. Without more commitment from the community, though, I anticipate that the kinds of drug activities Mark has witnessed will continue.

George is a Chatham County Student Assistance/Safe Schools Counselor

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