CAPE ELIZABETH — Parents shook their heads with disbelief Tuesday afternoon as Community Liaison Officer Mark Dorval explained slang terms for marijuana and demonstrated how household items can be used to transport and hide drugs.
In a drug and alcohol awareness workshop at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, Dorval, Officer Ben Davis and Detective Paul Fenton showed parents drug paraphernalia confiscated from Cape Elizabeth students, including glass bongs, homemade pipes and “one-hitters” that look like cigarettes.
Fenton said students ranging from middle school through high school are smoking cigarettes and marijuana, drinking alcohol and using heavier drugs such as heroin, prescription medications and pain killers.
“Is there heroin use in Cape? Yes,” he said. “Is it rampant? No. But more than one case is too many.”
Fenton explained drug laws to parents and said a summons for possession of drug paraphernalia or alcohol could make it impossible for students to receive college grants, loans and scholarships.
The workshop gave parents an opportunity to ask police officers how students get the drugs, how much the drugs cost and how to identify drug-use behavior.
Parents also expressed their support of police dogs in the schools and encouraged police to use that method of enforcement.
Fenton said while police have made progress in trying to put a stop to teen drug use, the fight is difficult.
“The majority of kids getting caught are from traffic violations or people calling in a report,” he said. “But parents are hesitant to call us, they do not offer very much information.”
He said teenagers using drugs and alcohol are likely to hang out at Pond Cove, Crescent Beach, Kettle Cove and any of the trails running through town. In addition, parents who are divorced, work late or go away on weekends leave their homes open for possible gatherings.
“Stay open, stay informed,” he said. “Ask what is going on, be aware.”
Middle School guidance counselor Gretchen McCloy said workshops are held each month as part of a wellness awareness program. Each month, the school highlights a theme like stress management, healthy local eating, and depression awareness.
“Including parents in this process makes them aware of the issues facing their children,” McCloy said. “A lot of the change comes from parenting. We need to help kids identify structure, have dinner with them, build trust. We can play an active roll in this.”
High School heath educator Andrea Cayer said it is important for parents to pay attention to their child’s behavior. She encouraged them to join the community group Healthy Outreach for Prevention and Education.
As a HOPE member, Cayer said the goal of is to prevent substance abuse and to work collaboratively with community organizations, student representatives, businesses and faith-based organizations. Members include parents, police, school administrators, social workers, coaches and nurses.
“I care deeply about your sons and daughters,” she said. “We can break the silence and express our concerns and ideas, together.”
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org