Drugs and alcohol have become so pervasive in Lindenhurst that the Board of Education, school officials and parents in the district are calling for special task forces and increased education to stop the problem from getting worse.
When the spotlight turned on the issue at a recent meeting, many parents and students agreed it was a growing problem, and ideas about how to combat it were bandied about, some calling for reintroducing past drug prevention programs like D.A.R.E. into the school.
Community members took to the comment section of the story and voiced their opinions.
Michelle Greenberg Bornemann was very direct, saying that people needed to “stop being in denial.”
She wrote on Patch: “Remember that your teens still need guidance. Stop believing that sports, scouts or whatever keeps them from doing drugs; it's not true.”
She said parents need to show they love their children by checking up on them.
“Check their things; it's not against the rules - it's a parental responsibility,” Bornemann said. “If there's nothing, then that's great. If you find something, thenthank God now you have a chance to stop it.”
Call for Drug Testing
Linda Zotto also had some ideas.
“I'd like to start a petition for mandatory drug testing in our Lindenhurst Schools,” she said. She wanted kids involved in extracurricular activities and sports to be tested.
Zotto asked community members to give feedback, saying it’s “a big problem in our community.”
A commenter named LindyPride didn’t agree with mandatory drug testing.
“I'm pretty sure that it's not even legal,” LindyPride said. “The kids and their parents have rights. Drug testing presumes the possibility of guilt, so these kids would have to prove their innocence in order to participate? I don't want my kids or anyone else’s to feel like school is a prison, and they're presumed to be criminals.”
LindyPride also said the program would pose other complications like cost, administration of testing, oversight of results and developing criteria for the basis on which students would get tested.
“….Does it extend to teachers, coaches and involved parents? How are privacy rights handled? How do you appeal a possible false positive? How often are they tested and more?” LindyPride asked. “After all of that expense and red tape you still wouldn't have solved the problem, and I agree there's a real problem.”
LindyPride disagreed with this solution saying it infringes on rights of parents, saying, “I do not feel they need to raise my kids for me.”
Teaching Kids at Home
Others agreed parents have to become the first line of defense.
“First, parents need to be responsible and involved in their kids' lives - know their friends, where they go, what they do,” said Richard Burke. “I'm amazed with the number of high school kids out at night past midnight or the middle school kids wandering the streets at 11 p.m.-midnight.”
Bornemann also wanted to get the Village and Suffolk Police more involved in a solution.
“All over Lindenhurst we have drug dealers. Not only the kids. There are homes, living on welfare even, dealing right out of their homes, with cops there all of the time for different issues,” she pointed out.
“Yet the drug dealing will still go on. This has been for years. Nothing ever gets done about it. Maybe if society and the police would crack down on it, then our children wouldn't have it so easy getting their hands on the drugs,” Bornemann continued.
But Robin Moller also said the teaching begins at home.
“Parents definitely need to be involved in their kids' lives,” she said. “Scouting, sports, church, etc. are not substitutes for the education about any number of substances/issues.”
Moller said the strength to say no to drugs begins with lessons at home.
“Follow up on the teaching that they learned somewhere else,” she said.
While Bornemann was in alignment with Moller’s comments, she said she had greater concerns.
“Unfortunately, the fear of what others are doing and safety in the neighborhood and at school are my concern,” she replied. “Where there are dealers there's trouble, where there's drug use and parents who are in denial of underage drinking; there are fights, car accidents and worse.”
Checking on Kids
Commenter Cindy Lou Who said vigilance is the key for parents.
“Don't think that, at a certain age, kids are able to think for themselves,” she said. “They can make certain decisions, but they need you for guidance. I think a lot of parents have given up.”
She called for parents to watch what kids see on television and hear in the home, and to check cell phones and Facebook accounts.
She said, “….You're their parent, and no one else will care to do it but you…and I'm not saying this guarantees to keep them from getting into something they shouldn't, but it'll help, and at least you'll know you did all you could! It's definitely the hardest, most important job you'll ever do, but it'll be worth it!”
“It definitely begins at home,” agreed AmyC. “I'm an alcohol and drug counselor, and I bet my first-grader knows more about why he needs to stay away from drugs than a lot of older kids. Parental involvement and education are some of the best preventions out there.”
Lindy Mom said every generation has dealt with its own unique drug of choice.
“One would think each one would learn from the others' mistakes, but as they saying goes, 'If you don't learn from history, then you’re doomed to repeat it,'” she said. “It doesn't matter how many alumni OD, how many students go to rehab; these kids think it’s cool, and it doesn't matter seeing their friends get wasted, or their friends' siblings die from an OD - it's not preventing anything.”
Lori G wants the district to reach out to drug rehabilitation facilities, and “have the clients come in and talk with the children about their own experiences with drugs and alcohol, and the consequences of going down the wrong path.”
She continued: “I know Phoenix House has worked with other school districts, and so has Daytop. All it takes is some phone calls. There are plenty of people in treatment and recovery that volunteer for these programs. We need to utilize what's available before it's too late.”
An Alum's Perspective
One commenter had a very different perspective.
“As a former student athlete in the Lindenhurst S.D. I will tell you first-hand that alcohol and drug abuse has plagued the Bulldogs for as long as anyone can remember; most dramatically since my tenure in the late 90s when heroin ripped through our beloved town liked the flood waters of Hurricane Sandy,” said a commenter named Lost Dawg.
“My mother believed, like many other parents, that playing sports would keep me away from drugs. The truth of the matter is that the parties thrown by many of the sports teams at the local hangouts (Shore Road, or 'The Shoe') were probably the most profitable nights of our local drug dealers.”
Lost Dawg listed his ideas on why drugs have become such a problem, but said he was glad it’s being addressed now.
“I'm happy this issue is finally being brought to the surface,” Lost Dawg said. “And I truly hope that whatever is done to combat this epidemic works.”
Continue the conversation here by sharing your comments, below. What do you think should be done in Lindenhurst to combat the drug and alcohol problem?