On Sunday, September 28, several Blanco citizens came together to discuss the need for the community to take a proactive stance against drugs in our town. Reports of juveniles using illegal substances and an increase in crimes, such as break-ins and vandalism, prompted the meeting.
Across Texas, many small communities have come together in such groups to increase awareness of the problem of drugs and to send a message to those involved in illegal drug activity that it will not be tolerated any longer.
The meeting on Sunday was held at the Trinity Lutheran Church. Judge Dan Mills, 424th District Court Judge, and City Council members Rebecca Howerton and Christina Gourley attended, lending their support and expressing the city's view on the situation. Police Chief Ed Sonnier made a pledge to help clean up the community.
Discussion included topics such as curfews, city lighting, help for our police officers, and getting more people involved. There was also talk of approaching the school board to discuss the possibility of grants to help fund the hiring of a full-time officer to patrol the Blanco ISD campuses, thus helping allow our city officers to concentrate on patrolling the streets instead of the school and school-related functions.
Encouraging students to speak out is another step toward helping the community take a stance against drugs and stressing the importance of parents, teachers, citizens, and clergy listening to the kids. In other school districts, students go through a D.A.R.E program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), which is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teach children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence free lives. It is usually taught to fifth graders and lasts about six weeks.
Some tips for parents from D.A.R.E:
• Establish family rules that make it clear that drug use will not be tolerated.
• Educate yourself about drugs, so you can talk informatively with your children and answer their questions.
• Spend time with your children listening to their concerns and showing how much you love and care for them.
• Recognize that YOU are their most important role model.
• Because peer pressure is a major factor in teen drug use, know your children's friends.
• Talk with other parents. Try to establish uniform rules that make access to drugs harder, such as curfew and the amount of spending money they receive.
• If a problem exists, get help! Don't say "Not my child!"
• Teach them about the many positive alternatives to drug use.
Along with programs such as D.A.R.E., many communities have instituted drug testing in schools, curfews that do not allow anyone under certain ages to be on the streets after a set time, and citizen watches.
The philosophy of a watch group is to let the would-be perpetrators of criminal activity know that they are being watched, thereby decreasing the chances that they will pursue those types of activities.
Blanco's need for action by the citizens is not unique. Hundreds of communities across the United States have implemented programs such as
this with great results.
The next meeting will be held on Sunday, October 5, at 3 pm at the Ark Revival Building, located next to Super S.