DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – It was parents, and not students, getting an education on drug use at Highland Park Middle School on Tuesday. The school, in conjunction with the Chemical Awareness Resources & Education group (CARE) hoped to teach parents how to spot signs of possible drug use in their own homes.READ MORE: 'The Future Feels Like A Scary Place:' Dallas ISD Program Helps Parents & Students Navigate An Uncertain World
The experience was eye-opening for many parents. A mock bedroom and a look at where drugs are often hidden. One presenter pointed out a can of WD-40 that wasn’t what it seemed. “It looks like a typical can, you may even see this in a Coke can, but the bottom of it unscrews…” and revealed a hiding place for drugs or paraphernalia.
“I had no idea all the clever things they could do,” said parent Kelly Reed. Mother Kathy Parker echoed the surprise. “Just the many ways that children can hide drugs and where they can get them and the things that they would actually use.”
The program was presented twice, once at 10 a.m., and a second time at 7:00 p.m., for parents with day jobs. The meetings brought together counselors and police, displaying the exotic alongside the mundane. The underlying message: parents can’t be afraid to search kids’ possessions.
“I think it’s important for parents to use any and all methods to find out what’s going on with their children,” Sabina Stern, a licensed chemical dependency counselor told CBS 11 News. “ They should search their room and every nook and cranny in their room, they need to search their child’s bathroom; look on their cell phones, see who they’re texting, what websites they’re looking at, who they’re talking to on the phone. You need to be suspicious first, and hopefully you find your child is not using drugs, but if they are then it’s time to take steps.”
Kids are very inventive when it comes to hiding or masking drugs; presenters said they’re actually smarter about that than adults are. Stern recounted how one student hid is drugs in a dining room chair; another in his parents’ bedroom; a third in an air conditioning vent in his bedroom. It made some parents stop and take stock. “I am really not aware of all the drug paraphernalia,” said Miriam Richard, “so it’s really good to see it.”READ MORE: North Texas Mom Raising Millions To Find Cure For Son's Rare Neurological Disorder
Others, including Kelly Reed, acknowledge there were lessons learned. “That it’s definitely okay to search their rooms, that they live in my house and I don’t have to be their best friend and I can search anything I want to at any time.”
Stern says searches or random drug tests are worthwhile, even if it temporarily changes the parent-child relationship. “If you lose your child’s trust for a while, so be it,” she said. The child’s overall welfare trumps everything. “If your child is using drugs, their safety, their welfare, their life is the issue.” She added, “Even if they’ve never used it’s important for kids to know this is what we’re going to do to keep you safe.”
Warnings taken to heart, according to Ms. Richard. “ I almost wonder if I should take pictures of it and show it to my son and say, ‘If you ever see any of this — run!’”
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