Editorial: Tell children why they should say ‘no’

Drugs and teenagers. Don’t like the link between them? Let the following incident be food for thought and then decide what you’d do if these were your children.

Around 2 p.m. last Thursday, a group of three teenagers sat at a table outside one of the area’s Starbucks. For about 45 minutes they sat and talked, the topic of conversation rarely straying from drugs, and when it did, it was only to talk about sex.

Loudly and openly, they talked of their drug usage without ever lowering their voice to a whisper when adults walked in and out of the coffee shop. They didn’t think twice about the filthy language they peppered their conversation with, how it might sound to passers-by.

What they were saying about sex? Definitely not fit to print. Their talk about drugs centered mainly on marijuana, although heroin and pills also popped up.

A friend wandered up to their table and they asked him if he had done “morning glories” last weekend. The boy said he had, and that he had tripped so bad he ended up throwing up all over the freeway. You might be wondering: morning glories? Like the flowers growing in my garden? Yeah, the very same. Apparently some teens swallow the seeds to achieve a hallucinogenic high.

In between chain-smoking cigarettes, the teens debated which drug they should take on Friday. One girl said she wanted to smoke, but the boy said, “Everybody’s going to be rolling on Friday,” in reference to the drug ecstasy.

Which prompted one girl to ask: “If everyone jumped off a bridge would you?”

To which the other girl replied: “I would do it because I’d be bored.”

The biggest piece of advice law enforcement officials give to parents whether the topic is drugs, alcohol or Internet safety, is to pay attention to your children. They say to monitor teens’ e-mails, become their friend on Facebook or check out their text messages. (Hey, you’re often paying the bill).

Talk to them about drugs and alcohol. Don’t just tell them to say no, but tell them why they should say no. Tell them how drug use can hurt their lives; help them come up with a game plan of what to do when they find themselves in a situation when they have to make a choice. Help them make the right one.

It’s clear that teenagers, like this group, are talking about drugs and sex. You might as well become part of the conversation.

Editor’s note: We generally don’t allow reporters to write editorials so we can keep the line between editorials and news. In this case, though, one of our reporters, who is 28, was so impassioned after witnessing this exchange that we made an allowance.