Officials are trying their best to save our kids

Point of No Return

It’s beyond repugnant that it’s gotten to this point, but here we are. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), along with support from the Ocean View Police Department, Attack Addiction Delaware and the Lord Baltimore Lions Club, will be hosting a daylong Youth Drug Summit at Lord Baltimore Elementary School on Thursday, Nov. 7.

That’s right. There will be a day-long summit on drugs at Lord Baltimore Elementary School. Our elementary school children — this community’s children — will be taking part in an event to educate them on the perils of drugs, particularly opioids. And it is 100-percent necessary.

Especially if we want to save our community’s children.

Esteban Parra of DelawareOnline.com wrote a story earlier this fall about a string of overdose deaths in the state that happened over Labor Day weekend. According to the article, the state Division of Forensic Science reported that six people died over the weekend in Sussex and New Castle counties, and that there were 25 suspected overdoses in Sussex County alone between Friday and Monday of that week.

The article continues that, to that point, there had been 194 suspected overdose deaths in Delaware to that point, and 400 in 2018, an increase from the 2017 total of 345 deaths. Is that shocking to you? It should be. It should be shocking to everybody in this state, and across these fruited plains, that there has been this kind of destruction to human life.

According to a May 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 47,600 opioid-involved deaths in this country in 2017. Consider that there were 47,424 Americans killed in combat during the Vietnam War, according to “The Oxford Companion to American Military History.”

This is generation-altering destruction, and it is largely self-inflicted.

So, what’s the answer? How do we put a stop to this? Is there a way to stop all of this? Well, organizers of the Nov. 7 drug summit hope that education at a young age plays a significant role.

“Kids are so vulnerable at this age,” said Paul Bolton, a member of the Lions Club who volunteers to mentor youth in this community. “It’s a lot easier to prevent than to cure.”

And that answer nails it. If these children can be reached when they are young, at a time when they are starting to put together who they are and what they are about, that’s a significant start, right? If it can be ingrained in their heads for perpetuity that drugs are not even something to consider, well, that should be half the battle right there, right?

To reach the kids, organizers are splitting the students into four groups, each of which will include a special agent from the DEA and an honor society student from Sussex Tech. There will be presentations from those individuals, a question-and-answer game, a demonstration on impairment, a hip-hop dance instruction highlighting healthy bodies and minds, and a K-9 demonstration by the Ocean View Police Department.

The priority here is obviously to actively engage these kids in order to maintain their attention and really drive home what the risks and dangers of drugs truly are to them. Bolton was absolutely right in his comments: Reach these children now. Drill it into their heads that drugs are the absolute last things they need in their lives. And trust that they will take that information with them forward in life.

I would add that it is imperative that they receive these lessons time after time after time going forward.

So, we said that reaching these kids is half the battle. Do you want to know what else is critical in our all-out fight to keep our community’s children from becoming more heart-breaking statistics? Parents. It is imperative that the parents are also educated.

Well, organizers of the Youth Drug Summit are targeting parents as well. Parents are being invited to come to the school that evening at 6 p.m. to attend a special education session sponsored by the DEA. Representatives from that agency will discuss how the impact of drugs, alcohol and tobacco affects families and the community as a whole, and parents will be given information on how to keep their children safe. Attack Addiction will present the trailer for the film “Right Before Your Eyes.”

Parents are being encouraged to leave their children at home for that event, but if that isn’t possible, there will be childcare and entertainment for the youngsters provided in a separate area of the school, along with light refreshments.

This is an all-out effort to save our children, and, in the process, the future of our community.

Nobody has all the answers for any of this, but we are beyond fortunate that so many here are trying.