There is no animal quite so noisy as the high-school rumor-mill, and last week that beast was roaring.
A girl had collapsed in the Greenbrier High School cafeteria. She'd overdosed on drugs that she bought from another student right there in the lunchroom. As the ambulance sped her off to the hospital, the cops cuffed the young dealer and hauled him to the pokey.
The truth, as is almost always the case, turns out to be a little less dramatic. A student was briefly hospitalized after having a bad reaction to a drug that she shouldn't have been taking. And there was no arrest.
Often in the news business we spend more time tamping down overblown rumors than reporting on them. Understandably, sometimes parents get a little irritated when they think the media refuses, for whatever reason they can imagine, to report a particular story.
The reality is that any legitimate media outlet will try to make sure the truth gets reported. That might lack the excitement of a well-crafted tall tale, and it might not fit the agenda or validate the views of those who spread it, but quite often getting to the bottom of a story just means there's little or no story at all.
In this particular case, though, either the rumor-mill version or the more-tame story provide an equally valid opportunity to raise an important "teachable moment" question for children and teens: Bluntly put: Are you so stupid that you would take a chemical of dubious origin from someone you barely know, put it in your mouth and swallow it?
Never mind all the drugs-are-bad lessons that kids are supposed to learn. Just think about the incredible amount of trust we invest in people from whom we buy legitimate drugs. We've built that level of trust with professional pharmacists through painstaking years of scrutiny of them and the medicines they dispense. We even have government agencies whose job is to keep an eye on drugs and those who legally dispense them - and even then consumers are sometimes wary.
All of that goes out the window with illegal drugs. Some kids who would sooner kiss a pig than use someone else's toothbrush won't even think twice about popping a pill someone hands them.
Naturally, getting at the truth of the recent lunchroom story is important. But in this case, maybe a few more kids need to hear that, believe it or not, sometimes the people who would give you illegal drugs don't have your best interest in mind.
Trust the rumor mill if you want, kids - but only a fool would trust someone who wants to give him or her an illegal drug.
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