Boys to Men of Wal­dorf talk drug avoid­ance ad­vice

Ad­dress causes, in­flu­ences for teens us­ing drugs

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

Opi­oid ad­dic­tion has been a real is­sue across the United States for decades now and po­lice de­part­ments around the coun­try are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to com­bat it.

And that is no dif­fer­ent in Charles County where opi­oids and other drugs have be­come a ma­jor con­cern for the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and other elected of­fi­cials.

That’s why Boys to Men of Wal­dorf part­nered with the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice on Satur­day at the Faith Tem­ple Bap­tist Church in La Plata to host a drugs and al­co­hol avoid­ance pro­gram to talk to lo­cal high school and mid­dle school chil­dren about say­ing no to drug use of any kind.

Je­mal Sim­mons, the pro­gram or­ga­nizer and a mem­ber of Boys to Men of Wal­dorf, said liv­ing through drugs and us­ing them for re­cre­ation is be­com­ing the more pop­u­lar thing for chil­dren to do these days be­cause of pop cul­ture.

Many rappers and artists, he said, glo­rify drug use and make it seem all right for chil­dren to do the same things, he said, when in re­al­ity it is not all right.

“They make it seem like that’s nor­mal. And just liv­ing your life, you know that’s not nor­mal,” Sim­mons said. “Peer pres­sure and most of the rappers you

lis­ten to say its OK. But that lifestyle is not real.”

Chil­dren have to know, he said, that the life­styles that they see por­trayed through mu­sic and through tele­vi­sion are not what their re­al­ity is. In re­al­ity, he said, drugs are dam­ag­ing and they can change, and in some cases end, peo­ple’s lives pre­ma­turely.

Cpl. Daniel Baker, a mem­ber of the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and a com­mu­nity polic­ing of­fi­cer, said, in many cases, that is true. Peer pres­sure and out­side in­flu­ences are the things that push chil­dren to­ward drug use, al­co­hol use and just over­all bad de­ci­sions.

The way to com­bat that? Baker said hav­ing good role mod­els in life and a solid sup­port sys­tem are the way to go. For him, he said, that was who his fa­ther was.

“I hated my dad, but he made some of the best de­ci­sions for me,” Baker said. “We’re the best of friends today. I call him all the time to talk. I tell him I love him.”

Many chil­dren these days have those same role mod­els, but still end up mak­ing mis­takes, he said. And a lot of that comes be­cause of the cul­ture sur­round­ing dif­fer­ent drugs.

For ex­am­ple, he said, in many places mar­i­juana is be­ing de­crim­i­nal­ized and treated as a lesser drug. In many cases, he said, it is trend­ing to­ward be­com­ing le­gal.

Charles County State’s At­tor­ney Tony Cov­ing­ton (D) said things are trend­ing that way “un­for­tu­nately.”

Many peo­ple have agen­das, Cov­ing­ton said, and are just try­ing to make money off of a drug. But, just like with the opi­oid prob­lem, he said it’s best to just avoid mar­i­juana al­to­gether.

Sim­mons said it is es­pe­cially dangerous for youth be­cause there is no telling what it could do to their grow­ing brains.

“There are stud­ies that in­di­cate that for those un­der 25, it could have very harm­ful ef­fects,” Sim­mons said.

Over­all, Baker said, as long as chil­dren know “right from wrong” and avoid hang­ing around the wrong peo­ple, they will be fine. There are too many in­stances, he said, where chil­dren get caught up with the wrong peo­ple and make bad de­ci­sions.

Ev­ery­one who par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gram, he said, is set to do well. Be­cause, like him, Baker said that those chil­dren have strong men and women in their lives who want to see them do well.

That is the dif­fer­ence, Baker said.

“They bring you here and they do these things with you. There are thou­sands that don’t have this op­por­tu­nity, that don’t have the strong peo­ple in your life,” Baker said.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Charles County State’s At­tor­ney Tony Cov­ing­ton speaks to chil­dren and adults alike about drug ad­dic­tion and drug use in Charles County at Faith Tem­ple Bap­tist Church on Satur­day.

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