04/02/14 — The reasons: Week's events in court sad tale with a message

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The reasons: Week's events in court sad tale with a message

There are some people who think drug use among teens is not nearly as prevalent or as much of a reason for concern as media and law enforcement report.

And they would probably be surprised to know just how many teens are trying drugs -- and not just in the poor sections of Goldsboro, either.

They do not realize the ubiquitous nature of marijuana and the attitude some young people have about the drug -- "It's just a little weed," they say.

They hear it, but they do not comprehend that drugs are one of the main causes of crime, gang involvement and high school dropouts.

They might not completely understand just how drugs destroy families -- and children -- because they have not seen it themselves firsthand.

They might not realize how easily young teens can get swept up in bad associations.

Until perhaps this week.

What you should understand about the trial of Leonard Joyner and the sentencings of the three other young men who were charged in connection with 16-year-old Kennedy McLaurin's death is that this whole tragic scenario came about because of one act.

Some young people decided to buy some "high-potency" marijuana.

There were other factors that influenced the outcome of this particular deal -- a gun, a young person allegedly involved in gang activity, bad decisions.

But the bottom line is, a 16-year-old lost his life, and four other young men, none older than their mid-20s will now lose the majority of theirs, too.

And these are just the five we are hearing about today. There are other victims and offenders every single day.

It is sad. It is preventable. It is a problem that needs to be dealt with -- no matter how much some of us would rather talk about something else.

Drug use among teens is nothing new. It has been a problem for generations. But the methods change and the potency of the drugs shifts as well.

This is a wake-up call for any parent luring him or herself into the false comfort that it "couldn't be their child" or who is facing the challenge of an out of control teen.

And it is a wake-up call for the community as well. There are consequences when young people get caught up in drugs and gangs -- and none of them are good.

If this case prompts a discussion -- an honest one -- about what to do next, it will still not erase the hurt, the sadness or the tragedy.

But it might be the first step toward actions that could prevent the destruction of even more young lives.

And that should be our goal.

Published in Editorials on April 2, 2014 11:02 AM