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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Crisisis: Snorting Drugs

Rabbi Horowitz posted a letter from a couple that went to visit the scene in the Catskills on Motzei Shabbat. Since I have never vacationed in the Catskills and therefore have not seen the boy-girl interactions or the dress code in the Catskills, I am unable to acertain just how beyond the pale it is since the report was vague.

We all come from different backgrounds and harbor different sensitivities. What is over the line in your book may or may not be over the line in my book. Having attended public school, I will probably be forever less sensitive to boys and girls "cavorting," than some of my readers from more insular backgrounds.

Although, I hope to raise my children to interact with dignity with those of the opposite gender, the fact that children and young adults get together to "cavort" (which I presume includes a range from socializing to heavy flirting to limited physical interactions-they are still in public still) does not immediately send sirens off in my head.

But, no matter where you draw the line on appropriate and inappropriate boy-girl contact, I do know that snorting drugs is far beyond the pale (for every functioning parent) and this information should send shivers up and down your spine. Pushing the limits of boy-girl interactions is a reaction to the yetzer hara (the same yetzer hara that hopefully drives us to marry and establish families). In no way do I intend to minimize what might be going on (like I said, I was not there to see it), but I have to make a differentiation between fliritng and using hardcore drugs.

Using hardcore drugs is not something driven by the yetzer hara in the same way and such and issue deserves separate treatment of its own because it is just downright frightening.

But what mostly deserves attention is childrearing and the pitfalls we are seeing. We would be insane to think that all is rosy in our communities. No matter which community we are a part of (modern, Yeshivish, Chassidish, or any combination thereof), there are problems and some of them are quite glaring.

As a parent without enough years under my belt to speak authoritatively, I will just say that my next post will be dedicated to my own parents who managed to do a stellar job, if I might say so myself. It wasn't always easy growing up under their roof. But, the older I get the more I appreciate everything they did for us and the more I realize the wisdom behind their ways and want to emulate them (with some of my own adjustments).

Stay tuned please.


anonymous mom said...

Very important to differentiate between the Yeshivish/Chasidish kids acting out and those letting loose. I do so in my long comment to Rabbi Horowitz's post. What I am disturbed about as an educator and mother is that we are not doing enough preventative care with the "acting out" population. Instead, in recent years, public awareness has only shot up about triage services and even those are lacking. What are we doing in the schools and as a community to help parents get proactive about kids who engage in self-destructive behavior? By this, I mean drugs, drinking, promiscuous sex, illegal activities in addition to drugs? What are we doing to address pain as it is seen in school and at home before we catch them on a Monticello street corner snorting drugs? The first responders to this pain whether due to divorce at home, unaddressed learning disabilities, abuse at home, other sad family and school challenges are the parents, teachers, and Shul Rabbis (hopefully, our Rabbis can be part of this mix). All of us must reach out well before the snorting on the corner and we must be given the tools (strong push for publicity about programs, psychologists, options) to do so. This is a community effort and, as a registered Republican I hate to say this, but it does take a village. Where is the P.R. push by those who work in triage to the community and, most importantly, to my community of educators about how to reach out, how to respond, what to look for, and what to do? A Sunday program on at-risk youth is not going to draw the average teacher, parent, shul Rabbi, layperson. I think mandatory workshops at schools, especially the more Yeshivish, is super important. I also think that the support staff are not necessarily clear on this issue either. Oh and with regard to parenting, what I have seen of teens is that those who act out are, for the most part, suffering more from their particular challenges because there is either ineffective parenting or lack of parenting and we are not going to be able to "fix" parents or their challenges that easily. What we can do more expediently is start stepping up when we see a gap. Shul Rabbis, teachers, Rebbes, school guidance counselors, principals need to step up and connect the dots between the parenting issues and the issues that are causing the children pain. They need to help the kids more in their school environments so that school/Yeshiva does not become an extra burden, but rather a calmer, more encouraging place. The parents' role is very important in this, but focusing on it will not get these kids the proactive help they need right now.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon above. Prevention is needed. Education is necessary for all staff. Both need to be mandated and standardized.

A solution: Public schools in Maryland have SAP - Student Assistance Programs. I have been trained in it but unfortunately the school declined to put it in place properly. It is a wonderful program, without placing stigma and marks on the longterm record, catches kids who fail behind and or make sudden changes in their life - usually a sign of drug use or at least disillusionment. The SAP trainers encourage schools to train the cleaning staff and the support staff as well as the teachers themselves.

You can find out more at The National Association of Student Assistance Programs.