Just say no…later…to Drugs: Have Teens Gone Mad or Are Adults Sending Mixed Messages?

Friday Musings: An Opinion Piece by Dr. Robyn Silverman

Hold onto your tempers and excuse my temporary sarcasm. The last few weeks offer a bumpy, pot-hole infested ride.

Recently, it seems that free speech has been taken to the limit but at the same time, convoluted messages are being sent and practiced all over the US. My mind is swimming with a number of stories in the last few weeks that have made me say “What? Have we all gone mad?” as others are questioning if it’s MADD that has gone loco.

New meaning to the term “high schoolers”

So, first there was the story of the 15 year old girl, Heather McCurry, who thought it would be a great fundraising project (the young entrepreneur wanted to buy a laptop) to sell pot brownies to students at her school.

Another student had helped to expose the misguided McCurry, when she went to the nurse complaining of a racing heart.

“We get that type of idea that maybe someone is under the influence we act immediately. We know that students do not learn well under the influence. We will take every step we can to make sure that doesn’t happen in our schools,” said Barbara Gideon, Pflugerville ISD.

The law may teach the lesson: McCurry faces felony charges of selling drugs to a child—a crime that carries a punishment of two to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

Where could she get such an idea? Oh, yes of course, the recipe is on the web for any child to see.

And yes, it happened in Ohio as well!

A high school class trip was cut short when a boy got sick. The student had eaten a brownie laced with pot.

“We’re saddened that some students acted inappropriately, and we’ll deal with it according to our school policy,” Spano said.

School administrators were interviewing students and conducting an investigation, she said, adding the police liaison officer probably would be involved.

Juxtaposition: No wonder why children are getting mixed messages

A self-published children’s book about parents smoking pot has been all over the airwaves and press. The book, filled with colorful child-friendly pictures and text talks about how smoking marijuana is a harmless activity adults do. Hey—as it says in the book, “even presidents do it,” an obvious reference to Bill Clinton’s admission—although, of course, he didn’t inhale.

The story is about a child named Jackie. Jackie catches her parents smoking a joint (“just a plant,” mind you) in their bedroom after detecting a skunky smell when trying to nod off to sleep one night. Jackie’s mother then takes her on an adventure where she can talk to other people who also grow, endorse, or smoke pot for grown-ups.

In a similar spirit of the self-published plastic surgery book, “My Beautiful Mommy,” the website for “It’s Just a Plant” claims that this book on smoking pot is “for all parents” to read to their children. Right. Just like Everybody Poops.

Here’s an excerpt;

“What do you do with the flowers?” asked Jackie.

“My friends eat them,” said Bob, “and smoke ‘em.”

“They smoke flowers?!”

“Yep. Doctors, teachers, artists, actors, even mayors and presidents. Marijuana makes some people feel happy. Other people say it’s ‘dreamy…’”

The author believes that educating children in this way is our best defense against children smoking pot when young—he shows parents smoking pot in the house and telling children that they can choose whether to smoke pot when they’re older is their prerogative. So just for good measure let me add…

Studies on the effects of cigarette smoking have shown that:

parental actions, attitudes, and opinions about smoking have a great deal of influence on whether or not kids smoke. A recent study found that parental anti-smoking actions such as having restrictions about smoking in the home in place or sitting in non-smoking sections of restaurants are associated with reductions in children’s smoking.

Just poking a few holes in the crock pot.

Mixed Bag O’ Messages from our recent pot stories:

(1) First odd message: With regard to the pot book- Pot is good and good for many people—many powerful and interesting people do it– but can’t have it. Ha, ha! Yes, that message works well with children, don’t you think?

(2) Second odd message: Pot brownies in Texas carry a much more strict punishment protocol than in Ohio. What’s the protocol elsewhere?

(3) Third odd message: From our first pot brownie story in Texas; pot brownies are bad because they’re not conducive to good learning. Yes, that’s the real problem here.

(4) Fourth odd message: While smoking in the house is linked with children smoking at a young age, smoking a joint in the house can’t possibly do the same thing. Where would we get such strange idea? Oh yes, research. Years and years of smoking research.

Now, as far as the little pot book that can is concerned, you may just chalk it up to freedom of speech. But can you? Let’s throw another story at you that might say that freedom of speech may not be tolerated…

High Schoolers Booted from Prom and Graduation due to Prank T-Shirt

Fifty students from a high school in Michigan were suspended for wearing t-shirts that commemorate drinking and Michigan’s legal alcohol limit. The shirts read, “Puschin’ It To The Limit. Class Of .08 Seniors.”

The “School Spirit Week” prank, albeit incredibly foolish, went array when school officials suspended the students and took away prom and graduation privileges.

“We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol.”

Wearing shirts that shock during senior week is apparently a tradition at the school. Such decisive action was never taken in the past. Students were wondering why the new standard were enforced now.

Well, actually, it’s not. Whoops!

Students were kept from attending an honors ceremony on Thursday but their rights to attend prom and graduation may be reversed if they maintain “good behavior” and complete an essay on underage drinking.

One parent was quoted as saying:

Dawn Lewis, 47, said she discussed Archibald’s e-mail with her 11th-grade daughter. Lewis said it would have been more reasonable to punish the person who was behind the shirts, rather than penalize nearly 10 percent of the senior class. “They’re kids. What are you going to do?” Lewis said.

Mixed bag O’ Messages?

(1) First odd message: Empty threats (withholding prom and graduation privileges and then not following through) work well with teens. Very well done, Principal Archibald.

(2) Second odd message: If your child does something stupid, blame the person who came up with the idea, not anyone else. Perhaps an interesting proposition for those who are dealing with the girls who were beating up their victim on YouTube?

(3) Third odd message: Someone can write a children’s book touting the many benefits of smoking pot (an illegal activity) and call it “free speech” but teens wearing t-shirts that celebrate drinking (an illegal activity for teens) get expelled. Mind you, I’m not advocating for those ridiculous t-shirts, am against teen drinking and I don’t drink myself, but you have to admit the message is warped if you think about it from the teen perspective.

Perhaps you can imagine why my mind is swimming. It’s hard for children and teens to understand that drugs are bad and good at the same time and punishable harshly in some places but not in others—and illegal but parents and presidents are doing them. It’s confusing to tell children and teens that they have free speech depending on what it is they want to say, punish them, and then not follow through.

The next time we have children and teens doing dumb things, let’s take a look at the odd messages were sending. What part do adults have in creating this picture? And who should take responsibility?

Love to hear your thoughts.

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4 Responses

  1. Adults (and advertisers) are not only sending mixed messages, they’re acting like teens themselves. —

    Classic example from my hipster momcentric Daily Candy local newsletter this weekend headline opener: “Get drunk and styled to benefit others this weekend…”

    Or this sentimental mother’s day gift idea, “That woman’s got it in the bag. No, literally (there’s a mini pharmacy in her purse). Give mamacita what she really needs: a jazzy leather bag…”

    Yah, I know, pithy is the DC thing, but let’s just say the hypocrisy astounds…I’ve seen plenty of the “kids as accessories” shallow phenom among these mini-mes, as well as late 30s/early 40-somethings who host ‘Ultimate Fight Night’ in their LR and play drinking/dice games with their tweens in tow…so…um…

    Let’s just say…’the parent factor’ and the media depiction of same as normative and acceptable (w/’loser/lame’ parents being the ‘unhip’ ones) is contributing as well…

    I just posted about the cyberbullying 49-year old MySpace Mom along these lines here:
    http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1546

    Can we say ‘monkey see, monkey do?’ Ugh.

  2. btw, the ‘freedom of speech’ notion is trotted out whenever someone takes exception with ‘planting ideas’ in kids…Common sense is apparently vacant when it comes to withholding toxic ideas in the name of the almighty greenback…Case in point? Juicy Campus…
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=4849927&page=1

    As we’ve seen over time, Juicy Campus has eroded even further in the ‘abuse and cyberbullying’ realm, yet it is defended ardently as a ‘free speech’ issue…(Is there a ‘right’ to trash people’s lives? I think not)
    http://internetsafetyadvisor.info/journal/2008/2/19/juicycampusvery-disturbing-website.html

    I’ve been meaning to ‘cover’ JC for Shaping Youth, but truthfully, it ‘s so disheartening, I kept hoping it would ‘go away’ if none of us gave it any press. (kind of like the post I wrote about Miss Bimbo, wondering whether it was ‘baiting’ outrage or whether silence is best!)
    http://www.shapingyouth.org/blog/?p=1280

    –Amy

  3. Dr. Silverman,
    Excellent post! Here’s a mixed message for you: Parents that decry the sexualization of their young daughters and at the same time clothe them in the fashions from Abercrombie and Limited, Too (among others). We see it all the time here in Columbus.

    One question- is the quote you cite with Jackie, Bob, and marijuana from the My Beautiful Mommy book or from Its just a Plant. From the position of the quote in your post it appears that it is from My Beautiful Mommy- but by the content it seems that it would be from the pot book.
    Best,
    Dave Orsborn

    Thank-you, Dave– I clarified the quotation from It’s Just a Plant. And thanks for the comment. Parents do need to be very vigilant about what they are buying and dressing their children in these days so that they refrain from passing on mixed messages. Perhaps you read my post on Beyonce’s clothing line advertisements for Kids? —Dr. Robyn Silverman

  4. I can’t believe that you only have 2 comments about this. THIS IS INSANE!!!

    Let’s all vote for Obama and then it will be LEGAL, too! YAY!

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