02/06/08 — Warning sign: Take a good look at ages of drug suspects

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Warning sign: Take a good look at ages of drug suspects

Need more convincing that Wayne County and surrounding communities have a significant problem to deal with when it comes to drugs, young people and crime?

Then read the list of suspects being sought in connection with the latest round of raids designed to stop drug trafficking across Wayne County.

If you look closely, you will see that many of them are age 18 or younger. Almost all of them are under the age of 25.

And if you have been paying attention to recent crime reports and murder counts, you will see quite a few teens and young adults involved in those incidents also fit the same category.

What pushes a young person to choose a life of crime? Well, there are many factors — poor upbringing, poverty, a lack of role models, unsavory friends. But one of the biggest contributors is a lack of education — most often a high school diploma.

If you have no education and no certification that you have completed your public school education, employers are not exactly beating down your door to hire you.

So, faced with the prospect of not being able to feed themselves — as well as the peer pressure to gain and keep “respect” — many of these young criminals are finding success and a future in the drug world.

Some might even think they have no other chance at any other life.

Now, we all know how most of these cases end up. We buried quite a few young people this past year after drug-related violence.

And while it might be tempting to write off those young people we have already lost, perhaps today’s statistics might prompt more serious consideration of what to do to keep teens in school and out of the drug scene.

And don’t think they are waiting until high school either. There was a charge earlier this year against an eighth-grader who was dealing out of his locker at school.

It won’t be the first, and it won’t be the last.

We need to get tougher, act earlier and be more aggressive in finding, detaining and rehabilitating these young people.

And their communities and churches also have to become part of the solution as well — pointing out concerns, supporting parents who are trying to raise their children right and keeping an eye out for a teen who might be headed for trouble.

If it takes a community to raise a child, perhaps this is the wake-up call some people need to see that there is a crisis that cannot wait. The time for action is now.

We will see if anyone is really willing to lead the charge, or if it is really more about speeches and photo opportunities.

Published in Editorials on February 6, 2008 11:54 AM