As I was approaching adolescence, my father sat me down for a talk about what I could expect during my teenage years. My dad was a big man, six foot three inches and over two hundred pounds. He had been a Ranger in the South Pacific during World War II. His Ranger training included the killing of enemy soldiers with his bare hands, if necessary.
After the war, dad joined LAPD, and after a couple of years working as a uniformed patrolman, he joined the Gangster Squad and the rest of his 27 years he worked on organized crime. Although my dad was a loving father, he could be tough, direct and no nonsense, even with me and my three sisters when he was making what he thought was an important life lesson.
So when he sat me down to talk, I listened very closely to what my dad had to say. As always, he stressed the importance of being honest and telling the truth. Then Pop came to the main point of this particular talk. I will never forget what he told me: “In our country today, there is no excuse for committing two acts, stealing and taking (illegal) drugs. If I ever find out that you have stolen anything or taken drugs, I’m not sure what I would do to you.”
Considering my dad’s expertise and size, I had no desire to find out what he would do and I was never really tempted to challenge this advice. It wasn’t a Dr. Spock approved chat, but it worked on me and I believe more parents should have such encounters with their kids before they reach the teen years, and these family tenets should be reinforced periodically.
When I became a Long Beach police officer, we were taught about all types of illicit drugs. Our instructors in the Police Academy taught us that it’s called “dope” for a reason. Our training officers reinforced that training. On our Department, we never called those who used and/or were addicted to drugs “dopers”. They wore that moniker as a status symbol. We referred to them as “dopees”. They despised that nickname because it aptly described them and the drugs they were using.
Unfortunately, at a certain age, kids start seeking more independence from parental control and advice. A great many teenagers start listening more to their friends than to the people who love them most, parents and family. A gradual granting of independence is healthy, but it should be kept in mind that our kids and their friends lack the life experiences to make good, informed, rational decisions. That is why parents need to constantly communicate with their children, teenagers in particular.
It must be so much more difficult in today’s world, than when we grandparents of today were being raised or when we were raising our children. When we were kids everyone walked or rode a bike to school. Now the vast majority of parents drive and pickup their offspring at elementary and middle school. Today, almost every kid has a cellphone, a television in their bedroom, and video games galore. The smart parents limit the kid’s “screen time” on these devices. An added benefit of this limitation is the families will communicate more among themselves.
Even more dangerous today, than a couple of generations ago, are the availability of illicit drugs. Marijuana is much more potent today. Worse, drugs like meth rapidly deteriorate the chronic user’s physical and mental health. The most dangerous, by far, is the synthetic opioid, Fentanyl. Whether the Fentanyl is pharmaceutical grade or street manufactured, one dose can kill. Touching or breathing powdered or aerosol versions of Fentanyl will put one in the hospital or worse.
While many schools are teaching false science regarding the number of human sexes, Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, teachers and schools that really care about their students’ health and safety need to teach and show explicitly the dangers and effects of all illegal drugs.