DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently found drugs in my son's bedroom in his dresser drawer. It was a few loose joints. I know that high school students experiment with these drugs, but I also know that it is not legal where we live. He is already at a disadvantage in the sense that the police may be watching him since he is a young black man. I do not want to see him getting arrested for some foolishness. How can I get this message across to him that doing drugs isn't worth it? I know he thinks I'm a prude, but what I really am is trying to protect my boy. -- Keeping Him Safe, Bronx, New York
DEAR KEEPING HIM SAFE: Now that the drug laws are slowly changing all over the country and there is a huge buzz about it, it makes it even more difficult for people who want to use them to just say no. In New York, only medical marijuana is legal at this time. Plus, you are right to be extra concerned about your son's safety given how many recent incidents we have witnessed in the news of police aggression toward young black males. This is a real concern that you should take seriously.
Sit down with your son and talk to him about today's realities. Point out that you know he wants to have fun, but you don't want it to be at the expense of his safety. Buying and using illegal drugs is a crime, even if many people do it. Be sure to talk to your son about how to be in the company of police officers, which includes never running, speaking in respectful tones, answering questions clearly and succinctly and not getting too animated. Explain to your son that you want him to live a full and prosperous life. To do so, he must be clear in his life's goals. He must abide by the law. He must be mindful of the company he keeps. And he must keep his eyes open at all times. Unfortunately, he also has to be wary of the police.