Behind the Drug Culture is Child Neglect
Fr. Shay Cullen
A society without respect and openness to accept and listen to children and youth is like a land without water- everything dies.
Parents, relatives and enlightened community leaders are increasingly alarmed and shocked with the spread and common availability of personality and mind-altering dangerous drugs. With the“internet-of-everything” connecting everybody on smart phones, tablets, laptops and even eyeglasses, young people are exposed to a bombardment of influences more powerful, compelling and dangerous than ever before.
The role model they see before them when entering adolescence has the greatest influence on their lives and self-image. The most important is the loving, caring parent that teaches by good actions as much as by positive words.
The young person can be inspired and become a socially-involved and active youth helping others if listened to, involved in the life of the family, have good parents or brothers and sisters they can admire and imitate.
If left to themselves as busy parents get more involved with themselvesand forget their children’s needs for friendship and companionship, thenthey could lose their child. Hundreds of thousands of children are
running away from home and unloving and abusive parents than ever before. They join street gangs and use dangerous, banned drugs to for get their problems.
In some families without guidance and positive leadership, the childrenare all too easily groomed, enticed and seduced to the dark side of lifeby predators lurking on the internet. If they have underlying childhoodproblems and hurts because of a dysfunctional family, they are extremelyvulnerable, rebel against the neglectful parents and take to hostilebehavior. Such a family is in grave danger of losing a son or daughter.
The inspiring good example of parents and friends that leads to closebonding and supportive friendship is perhaps the only way in today’sworld to bring them to live a safe life of value, fulfillment anddignity. Many a good loving family who care and support their child canlose their children to the influence of a drug-taking peer group. Thereis no doubt that acts of abuse and hurt against a child leaves alife-long inner scar that may never heal. We live in a world where onein every four children suffers abuse. It has created a generation ofscarred, pain-filled youth who want justice and retribution. Some mayseek relief in pain killing drugs.
The growing neglect and physical and sexual abuse of children in theearly formative years of life is the cause of violence and can driveyouth to join terrorist groups to take revenge on society.
As young people grow to adolescence, they are seeking meaning andpurpose to their lives and yet childhood hurt blocks the happiness theydeserve and need. They have more feelings of exclusion and rejectioncaused by the childhood memories and inner scars of fear of adults andpunishment and they to turn to chemical substances to try and healthemselves.
That essential experience of feeling of being loved, whole and complete,is essential for a positive life. When there are few people willing tolisten and understand troubled youth, they turn to other sources of
comfort- dangerous drugs.
The desire for elation and relief found in chemicals can drive them to assuage and anesthetize with drugs their anxieties and feelings of alienation.
When they are materially as well as emotionally-poor and deprived of the essentials of life like secure home life, nutritious food, education,respect and dignity, they are on the edge of despair and even suicide. Added to that the failure of teenage relationship- how much more they will seek out relief in alcohol and dangerous drugs.
The knee-jerk reaction of misinformed and ignorant authority figures is to react in anger and to condemn, blame and punish young people for drug-taking. The adults must listen and learn. What the youth need is to be listened to, express themselves and state their needs and be given supportive counseling.
Their parents and adult leaders must see them as others in great need and give them emotional reinforcement and human understanding. The youth experimenting with pain killers will feel a lot more pain when condemned and they will reach out for more pain killers rather than less.
The branding as criminals deserving harsh punishment and even summary execution of impoverished drug dependents is criminal behavior. It is a total failure to understand the underlying plight and needs of the next generation.
Likewise legalizing any dangerous drug solves none of the problems but exasperates them all the more. It is lunacy to supply chemicals to youth to tranquilize their deep emotional family problems. What they need is emotional support, understanding and security.
June 26 is designated World Drug Day Against Illicit Drug Use and Trafficking by the United Nations Anti-Drug Agency. Drugs are no substitute for a loving, supportive, listening family and community.Teachers, parents, community leaders and peer leaders must listen and learn how to respond to the deepest needs and problems of the youth today. This we can do with wisdom, patience and living a live giving good example and caring for our family and doing good to others.