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Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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April 22, 1998     Mercer Island Reporter
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April 22, 1998
 

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has; OPINION Mercer 1...... REPORTER smoke. ing class. coronary heart disease and stroke. People smoke for a variety help. Island High School provide, a thought-provoking picture of students and ourselves. . As Matter Island Youth and Family Services counselors who work with middle and high school students, we find it valuable to examine the re— ported risk-taking behaviors in the area of substance abuse. Studentsintheninthand lltligrades comphed the survey in October 1997. Results indicated that 11 percent of ninth graders had used marijuana once or more in the last 12 months, and 9 percent had used other illicit drugs Itislogicalto assume that some of this behavior oc- curred at the middle school level. These results rightly provoke numer- ous questions. What motivates young adolescents to use drugs in the first place? Why dothey continuetouse?Whatarewe, as professionals and parents, doing to positively influence young adoles- cents? And how can we support them as they make the difficult choices that are part of growing up today? , T Adolescents function more sucé cesst'ully when the adults around them [invidc high'expectations, caring lim- its, and acceptance of their intrinsic o , i. r z e Jane A. Meyer, Editor and General Manager Linda Morgan, Associate Editor Peter A. Horvitz, President Thurston Twigg-Smith, Chairman Emeritus Catherine Shen, Publisher Published by King Cormty Joumat W5 New law can help curb teen smoking he youth anti-smoking legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Gary Locke won't by itself end teen smoking but it is good legislation that parents can use to warn their kids off starting to The bill makes it illegal for people under 18 to possess tobacco. Once the law takes effect June 12, those caught will get a $50 fine, four hours of community service and would have to attend a stop-smok— Teens who smoke dismiss the law as meaningless, saying they'll just be more careful where they smoke. While we’d like to see the law have impact on those current smokers, it probably will do more to keep young teens from starting smoking in the first place. For their sake, let's hope so. An estimated 419,000 Americans die each year from diseases caused by smoking. Most smokers start in their youth — almost 90 percent of them started before the age of 19. And once they do, the consequences too often are devastating and deadly. Smoking is directly responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases. Smoking causes most cases of em— physema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking is also a major factor in Putting a halt to this won't come easy. Cigarettes are the most heavi- ly advertised products in the US. as tobacco companies spend over $4 bil— lion each year on advertising and promotion of their deadly products. of reasons: some like the kick nicotine gives and many become hooked by its addictive properties; others like the taste and smell. Breaking those habits is tough. Fining a kid $50 for being caught with tobacco won't end teen use but any legislation that makes teens think twice before starting to smoke can Linda Liner worth as capable human beings. The adolescents who internalize these mes- sages tend to develop a resiliency that helps them resist drug abuse. The teenagers who do experiment with drugs are often motivated by cu- riosity, a need for peer acceptance, desire to alter moods, or solve tem- porary problems. FOR AN ADOLESCENT, drugs interfere with physical, emotional, iMercer speak out Close an example of if i doing a good deed The story on Don Close in the March 25 issue of the Reporter was very well done! Since I walk along East Mercer Way every morning (although not on Don’s stretch of road) I decided to incorporate his discipline into my walk. I hope other individuals and organizations will carry on his work in some way. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Ellen Gamrath Let’s have dialogues rather than monologues We read with interest Jeff Gove’s column of March 25 concerning re- sponsibilities of Mercer Island’s cit— izens and of the city to assure effec- tive representational government. Jerry Gropp, in his letter of April 1, with some disillusionment, spoke of his own observation of lack of real dialogue at city meetings. Perhaps our experience will be of interest and contribute to this discussion. The members of our neighborhood have attended the past three City Council meetings. On March 1, an hour was allocated for citizen input. Since we were the only citizens who attended, we had almost an hour to offer information about the history and seriousness of our problem. The council listened courteously and in— quired of city staff as to policies gov- erning our matter. The consensus seemed to be that they would exam— ine city policy and look specifically at our problem. On March 16, four of us spoke for three minutes each to bring up new information or enlarge upon old. The council members had no comment. We were told the staff was review- ing city policy. There would be a meeting concerning this on Monday, April 20. On Monday. April 6, we offered our three minute comments. The re- sponse from the council was the same. What is our problem? Our homes are on one of Mercer Island’s oldest platted city streets. It has one lane and a gravel surface and it becomes al- most impassable most winters. and intellectual growth. With con— tinued use, they short-circuit all the developmental tasks of adolescence: developing critical thinking skills, learning problem-solving and coping strategies, separating from parents in a healthy way, building a spiritual foundation, and making career deci— sions. An adolescent may initially try drugs like marijuana out of curiosity. But why do they repeat that use? The danger of marijuana is not that it may kill the very first time it is used. It is dangerous precisely because it, like tobacco, generally produces a be— nign response upon first use. It there- fore becomes less threatening and even seductive to repeat the experi- ence. And that is the insidious nature of these gateway drugs. We are asking adolescents to make immediate decisions about substances that will adversely affect them in the future. As adults, we know that mar- ijuana smoke contains more carcino- gens than tobacco smoke. Prolonged use adversely affects sexual perfor- mance, impairs brain tissue, and erodes internal motivation. This numbered city street (origi- nally named Franklin Ave.) was in- cluded in a replat July, 1906. The streets shown thereon were dedicated for public use forever. The two oldest houses were built in 1906 and 1913 and have been used as residences ever since. Three of us have lived here for 50, 43, and for 40 years respectively. King County used to grade and gravel our road. After repeated plead— ing phone calls and many letters, from time to time, we have gotten the city to do the same. They have never been willing to say that they are responsi- ble for the road’s maintenance. At one time the road was oiled which built a fairly hard surface. This was destroyed when the young city installed new water and sewer lines. Although the city is required to re— store roads thus damaged, the city has not done any restoration. , At the March 2 council meeting we hoped to get the council’s attention andtohavethecitygradeourroad. An entire reexamination of the city’s pol- icy toward “nonstandard” streets seems to be the result. We are told that the staff will present recommen- dations to the council Monday, April 20. ' We appreciate the courtesy we have received from the city staff. We don’t know the end of this tale. We hope we may see some genuine, open and effective dialogue rather than a series of citizen monologues, fol— lowed by further study. Those who have become disillusioned might give it one more try. * David and Anne Hurlbut, Helen Crinean, Christine Weiser, Denise and Tom Knox Island is blessed with many tireless volunteers With the oncoming of spring and summer, Mercer Island once again can look forward to another exciting season of outdoor arts activities. Led by the Mercer Island Arts Council, we're all blessed with a vibrant arts community — offering a wide range of visual and performing arts choices dmngrevention programs Adolescents function more shocessfully when the adults around them provide high expectations, caring limits, and acceptance of their intrinsic worth as capable human beings. But for young adolescents, who think of summer as being in the distant future, these long-term consequences are not deterrents to drug use. ACCORDING TO THE Partnership For A Drug-Free America, the number one risk teenagers fear with drug use is disappointing their parents. It’s not death, jail, or school suspens' n. The PRIDE (Parents’ Resource stitute for Drug Education) survey results from 1995 found that parental involvement could. signifi- cantly deter drug use, even among older teenagers. Drug use declined sharply among students whose parents frequently dis- cussed drugs with them. But only 34 percent of the nearly 200,000 students surveyed said their parents talk to them frequently about the dangers of drug use. Media messages bombard teenagers, ‘7 and create opportunities for discus- sion. When movies, TV shows, or ad- vertisements present drug (including alcohol) use as funny, grown-up, sexy, or glamorous, we can point out in— consistencies with real—life conse- quences. ‘ Prevention, and even intervention ef- forts succeed when school staif, parents, and community members work to- gether. Drug prevention programs have changed, and will continue to evolve. We know that “scare tactics” don’t work. To give a teenager erroneous information about drugs, Whether from ignorance or as a prevention tactic,‘ erodes our credibility and encourages distrust. Neither is it helpful to provide in- formation without the opportunity to practice resistance strategies. We can learn the facts about drugs, long and Are you an organ donor? Why or why not? “ ios with our teenagers to assist them ini . ent, teacher, or counselor with them, We Wednesday, April 22, 1998 A6 ing she oft I; A will \VC< late i'rie wit: “1 but . t dru pro of but end the. to all ages and sensibilities. Soon, we . i will be enjoying this year's Shakespeare , will in the Park season. We'll see newj 190‘ works installed in the I—90 Sculpture, lCIl‘ Gallery and new exhibits at the Mercer US” Island Gallery at the Community 1 Center. "Poetry Night" and "Children's, dr“ Tales Told in the \Vlnds" are also pop;l df” ular programs that will return this “CV summer. i We are also blessed with an army: $0114 of tireless, community-spirited vol—h "It." unteers. Arts Council members and‘| ‘lru their subcommittees are the volun-,, hall teers who make these programs soi W91 successful. One subcommittee in parél ‘1 Jl ticular deserves recognition. The (101‘ Mostly Music in the Park subcom—_, l mittee has over the years helped pr0-, ' 11b“ duce one of the communities' most; YOL popular event series. H 80ft Since 1986, the MMIP committee “9‘ has brought us nine to ten outdoor ‘ performances each year of wonder-i ' ful music for all ages. In the past we: have heard jazz, classical, blues and; country. Continuing the tradition, this 3 year's'full schedule is set and will in:; . Please see Letters on A7: it‘s About Time . . For Kids Real ' Assets,’ Real 3. it i: V . l b . i i I Results 1 I l '4 I I short-term effects, and communicate: them in an honest, straightforward: manner. We can also practice scenar-I developing beliefs and approaches to-i ward risk-taking activities before the; situation presents itself. 1 Students know that‘sooner or later. they will find themselves in .a situa-i tion where they will have to make dif-Ti ficult choices. They won’t have a par—" when it happens. ; But hopefully because-of our com- 1 bined efforts, they will have the knowl- i edge, the skills, and the self-confi—‘l dence to make wise choices on their; own. '; Remember to attend Mercer Island’s j ,1 Walk for a Drug-Free Life at 1 pm. on t T Sunday, April 26 at Mercerdale Park! 1 (Linda Liner is the [slander Middle 1 School drug and alcohol specialist. )f r l I -l 1 l l I l l 1 r I “No. I don’t know. I decided not to sign up. I am a‘bone marrow Carol Montelth donor, though.” self-employed “Yes. Because it’s a waste not to ,9 Mary Wotherspoon buyer “No. Mostly because I just failed “No. I haven’t thought about it.” “Yes. It seems like a good thing ‘ to say yes." Lee Ross to do." retired “Yes. If people I care about were dependent on an organ donation I’d want it available for them.” ‘ Jan Cunningham network manager . .Gale Reed Roger Daggett insurance [Il'Ol’¢?S~‘ii°llfll 3;. lnsurarice professional . --AAA-A..‘LLM.