September 21, 2017
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Shattering the Myths, by Eric Watson, Bradley (TN) County Sheriff

Posted on January 30, 2017 by in Hometown, Spotlight, Tennessee

Eric Watson, Bradley County Sheriff, Tennessee

Among the many things I have learned during my years in law enforcement is that there’s no safe way to “experiment” with drugs and alcohol by our young folks.

The past seven days we have observed National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Over the years, I have encountered one tragedy after another that is a result of young people’s “experimenting.”

I looked over some of the information I received during this past week, and while it didn’t surprise me, it did sadden me. Young adults are the most likely to abuse prescription drugs.

The latest statistics show more than 1,700 young adults died from prescription drug overdose in 2014 – a 4-fold increase from 1999, or nearly five people per day. Put another way, that’s five of our neighbors and friends per day.

In many cases, these prescriptions were obtained legally, yet the person they were meant for didn’t use them. Alcohol abuse is also most prevalent in the late teen years.

This is where our participation in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program becomes very important. Since 2014, when we reinstituted DARE, hundreds of Bradley County schools fifth-graders have learned how to avoid the pitfall of “experimentation” with drugs and alcohol, as well as the dangers of tobacco use and how to deal with bullying.

The above statistics prove the need for DARE, in that getting the information about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and certain behaviors early can save much grief later on.

There is a constant battle going on that I know DARE can help successfully fight. It’s the battle of the notion that “Drug and alcohol and tobacco use are no big deal” that is started by society through popular culture and the internet. Children are bombarded by movies, TV and the internet’s assumptions that “Hey, give it a try, it can’t hurt just once.” This is where the DARE program in your child’s school can be of great, possibly lifesaving value.

I feel we have a winning situation in Bradley County schools, in that fifth-graders already know their DARE instructors. In all 11 elementary schools, these instructors also serve as school resource officers.

I felt the DARE program in these schools would have a greater impact if the students were familiar with their instructors on a daily basis.

Each DARE instructor undergoes constant training to provide fifth-graders with the latest information available. I’m pleased to say each of these DARE/SROs are committed to their tasks and to your children’s welfare.

We see many tragic situations in law enforcement, and many involve young adults. By participating in the DARE program, it’s my hope that, starting at a young age, your children can avoid the tragedy that is illegal drug use and alcohol abuse. Nothing good can come from “experimenting” with either one.

I am looking forward to more DARE graduation ceremonies this school year. I enjoy visiting the schools and talking with the teachers, staff, and administration and, of course the children. I am always happy to see the great parental support DARE gets at each graduation. Thank you, parents.

This was originally published on Cleveland Daily Banner.