DEAR ABBY: I couldn't believe my eyes when I read your reply to "Second-Guessing Myself in S.C." (Dec. 18), who reported her son and his friends for getting high on campus. You said she should have informed the boys' parents so they had the option of dealing with the matter themselves -- and she owed those parents an apology.
As a drug prevention professional, I know that "Second-Guessing" was correct! Drug use is unlikely to stop unless there is an intervention. At the school where I work, a suspension for substance abuse is followed by a mandatory use assessment and, if recommended, substance abuse education and/or counseling. The anger that the friends' parents directed toward the writer of that letter needs to be seen for what it is -- enabling. If those boys were caught high on a job, they'd be fired.
Please let your readers know that you made a mistake. Encourage parents to take a stand, talk with their children often about the dangers of drugs, and let their children know that if they use drugs, they'll be held fully accountable. -- MIDDLE SCHOOL DRUG PREVENTION SPECIALIST, FAIRBANKS, ALASKA
DEAR DRUG PREVENTION SPECIALIST: Perhaps this column can be used as a starting point for that conversation. A lot of folks were upset about my response to that letter, in which I told the writer I thought she had jumped the gun in reporting the problem to the school administration, and that she owed those parents an apology for jumping the gun. What I failed to take into consideration was that teachers are mandated by law to report anything they see that they know to be against the law. Mea culpa! Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Would you have criticized that parent if the students were driving drunk? Shoplifting? Committing acts of vandalism? I think she should have reported them to the police as well as the school.
That the other parents were upset because their children were punished administratively is one of the reasons that so many kids get into trouble today. Their parents excuse the misdeed and fault the person who does take some positive action. Certainly, I expect parents to stand by their kids when they're in trouble, but being supportive does not mean excusing or covering up illegal behavior. Students need to learn accountability for their misdeeds, and not expect parents to bail (no pun intended) them out of their wrongdoings. -- RETIRED STATE TROOPER, ALLENTOWN, PA.
DEAR ABBY: As the mother of a boy who died of a drug overdose, I reacted strongly to your answer to "Second-Guessing Myself."
Those teens were breaking the law, and eventually their drug use could result in their own, or someone else's, death. Those students were using illegal drugs on school grounds. That mother did her son a favor by not putting him in a position where he had to rat on his friends, and believe me, the police would have put plenty of pressure on him to do so.
They did the crime. They need to be responsible for their behavior. She did the right thing. -- STILL GRIEVING IN THE EAST
DEAR ABBY: The teaching profession is ruled by a strict ethical code. Failure to report any illegal activity, whether it involves your child or the children of your friends, and whether it occurs at your school or not, can result in the loss of your teaching certificate and expose you to liability.
As a high school teacher, I all too often see children destroyed by parents who choose to "handle things themselves," which typically means they handle nothing at all. Parents who "help" their children by protecting them from the consequences of their actions in truth do them harm. This world would be a far better place if there were more mothers like the writer of that letter. -- MEREDITH IN THOMASTON, GA.