Stop Teen Drug Use Problem at Acalanes Union High School District

Stop Teen Drug Use Problem at Acalanes Union High School District

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Zhiming Nguyen started this petition to Acalanes Union High School District Governing Board

If you have a high school age child in Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD), then there is a nearly 50% chance that your child has experimented with drug use and may have even developed a substance abuse problem.  The percentage may be close to 95% for high school seniors according to another senior at Miramonte High School.  Drug use has been a long-battled problem in the Lamorinda area.  The past and latest California Healthy Kids Survey results show that AUHSD beats the state average in drinking and drug use.  Since AUHSD has not dealt with problem successfully, many parents have had to resort to bringing in psychiatric professionals or even sending their children to boarding school to deal with the substance abuse problem individually. 

My son, unfortunately, is one of the drug users.  He started in 10th grade but I didn’t learn about the problem until a year later.  Knowing the effects of drug use on a teenager’s developing brain, I enrolled my son in counseling, tried to keep him occupied with more family activities, and gave him clear boundaries and curfews.  Sadly, none of that worked.  Peer pressure and the desire to be accepted were just too much for my son to want to change. After several months of trying with no signs of improvement or attempts to change, I am left with no choice but to take my son to a small out-of-state boarding school where he will have very little social distraction.  Imagine how painful it is to send your child away to a strange place alone, not to mention seeing how sad your child is when that happens.  I really don’t want to see any more parents having to experience the pain that I have experienced, which is why I ask for your help. 

Please sign my petition to ask Acalanes Union High School District Governing Board to make all high schools in the district start implementing proactive measures to stop drug and alcohol use, starting with enforcing zero-tolerance policy.  

Why is and the problem so pervasive on AUHSD campuses? Here are some of the reasons I have gathered:

1.     Schools don’t set clear boundaries and implement meaningful discipline for drug use.    

2.     Schools don’t want to ruin their good reputation for academic achievement with the specter of a drug use problem.  Therefore, they do not actively promote substance abuse awareness to parents, leaving many parents completely oblivious to the drug problems present in local schools. Current parent education sessions offered by the district greatly downplay the problem, so that the parents leave with the feeling that drug use on these campuses is moderate and under control. 

3.     Schools may not want to suspend students violating the drug use policy in order to preserve students’ good academic records, but it, in turn, has created a very unsafe environment for our children with such a high percentage of students using drugs.   

4.     Teen drug usage is often not obvious, particularly when most of the children still do well in school.

5.     Some parents are not involved or around for their children, or just choose to turn a blind eye. 

6.     Numerous teen parties during weekends throughout the Lamorinda area, with or without parents’ knowledge, also promotes more drug and alcohol use. Some of these parties have resulted in police involvement, arrests, hospitalizations, and destruction of homeowners’ properties.  The school refuses to discuss these events with the students, claiming no culpability because they occurred off-campus and not during school hours. However, the parties almost always begin through word of mouth on the school campus.

7.     The combined legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has created an environment that minimizes the dangers of marijuana use. Many students have medical marijuana cards, often obtained with their parents’ support. It is well known that students sell their medical cannabis to other students on campus. If the deals are not occurring on campus, the arrangements are often set up during school hours. The district refuses to acknowledge this problem.

8.     The students believe that marijuana is a safe way to alleviate the stress of school and the current drug education does nothing to combat this belief. The availability of vape pens, in which liquid THC can be smoked without drawing attention to the smell, has increased this problem.

As you can see, parent involvement plays a huge part in this problem.  However, drug use for most children starts at school, or at least at school-associated events; therefore, school is an obvious first place for change to happen.  Clearly, the current passive preventative measures are not enough.  Students are not suspended even if they are caught using drugs.  The 2017 Lamorinda Weekly article below stated that there was no suspension in Miramonte High School in 2017.  The fact that students can get away with bringing and using drugs at school only encourages more students to participate.  While schools should continue in-school education about the impact of alcohol and drug on teen brains and physical health, they also need to start actively partnering with parents and local police.  Most importantly, schools need to take a hard stand on drug and alcohol use, including the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy.  Only then will students learn that there will be tough consequences for their actions.  

Again, I am asking for your help so we can work together to kick this drug use habit once and for all from Lamorinda schools.   

Please sign my petition to ask Acalanes Union High School District Governing Board to make all high schools in the district start implementing proactive measures to stop drug and alcohol use, starting with enforcing zero-tolerance policy.  

Below are websites with further information on how underage drug use can affect teenagers’ brain development and articles of the drug use problem:

https://drugfree.org/article/brain-development-teen-behavior/

Miramonte Needs to Kick its Drug Habit:

https://mhsmirador.com/opinion/2017/10/11/miramonte-needs-to-kick-its-drug-habit/

Educating parents and youths about underage substance abuse:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/letter-director

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/10/30/educating-parents-youth-about-underage-substance-abuse/

Prescription Drug Abuse and Fatalities in Lamorinda Area:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5132be4de4b021358bca7fed/t/54c1b69fe4b09b3245edd0e2/1421981343677/_Feb_14_Orinda_news.pdf.pdf

Allegations surface of open drug use on high school campus:

http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1118/Allegations-surface-of-open-drug-use-on-high-school-campus-parent-education-planned.html

2015-16 California Healthy Kids Survey by Acalanes Union High School District:

https://data.calschls.org/resources/Acalanes_Union_High_1516_Sec_CHKS.pdf

Other older articles showing the continuous drug and alcohol use and problems parents experienced at Lamorinda area:

http://www.diablomag.com/July-2006/Teenage-Wasteland/

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2008/06/20/drinking-and-drug-use-remains-frequent-in-acalanes-district/

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