By Dallas Ducar ’10 and James McElwee ’10
Almost half of America’s teenagers have had some encounter with drug-related substances upon reaching senior year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The NIDA found 47.4 percent of seniors say they have used some type of illicit drug in their lifetime.
Out of this number 42.6 percent is marijuana.
The NIDA also reported in its December 2008 study that 32.4 percent of seniors have used marijuana in the past year and 19.4 percent have used it within the last month.
Late last semester, Principal Mr. Bob Ryan called all four classes into the chapel to discuss the school’s drug policy.
When asked about any specific incidents that led to these meetings, Mr. Ryan and Dean Mr. Jim Bopp both said they could not comment on student discipline issues.
“Our policy is to not discuss specific incidents that involve students and their families,” Mr. Ryan stated.
Regardless of any specific instances though, these statistics make it clear teenage drug use is not an issue anyone can ignore.
“The statistic doesn’t shock me, it saddens me,” Mr. Ryan said of the 47.4 percent figure. “I’d like to believe that’s not true of our students here, but we have teenagers at this school just like there are teenagers at every school … I would hope that there’s a lower rate of usage here, but I don’t know.”
The NIDA also surveyed high school sophomores and reported 34.1 percent of 10th graders claimed to have used some type of drug in their lifetime.
Of surveyed sophomores, 23.9 percent said they used marijuana in the last year, and 13.8 percent in the last month. Both of those figures are slightly lower than the year before.
A separate 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the most recent information available, indicated in 2006 30 percent of 16-17 year olds used marijuana in the last month. Sixteen percent said they used some kind of illicit drug in the last month.
Percentages vary by study and researchers say students can either under- or over-report drug use.
However, various Brophy students said they believed the statistic to be much higher than reported, perhaps even more than 50 percent.
Underclassman Nick Giancola ’12 recognizes that Brophy is not free from the influence of drug-use.
“I’m not that surprised by the statistic. I feel that high school is an incubus for drug use,” Giancola said.
Mr. Ryan said the school believes drugs and alcohol are harmful when used by teenagers, but the school also wants to work in partnership with students to help them navigate the realities of the world around them.
Brophy administrators have certain measures they take when dealing with drug-related substances, many of which are detailed in the drug and alcohol policy on the Brophy Web site.
Yet this policy is not black and white.
“We don’t have a zero tolerance policy,” Mr. Ryan said. He continued stating that each situation has to be looked at individually.
“There’s a difference between being at a party on the weekends where you didn’t know who necessarily was going to be there and suddenly you’re in a room where everyone’s passing beer around, and there’s a difference between that and sneaking out to your car during break and crushing a fifth of vodka. Those are two different realities,” he said.
Mr. Bopp noted there are different consequences between self-reporting and being reported for a drug or alcohol violation, which are all laid out on the Brophy Web site.
“If you come to the school with that amount of moral courage and fortitude to say ‘I’m not happy with where I’m at right now and I want to do something about that,’ that’s something we want to respond to positively and we want to make sure you have the resources and the things you need to make that change,” Mr. Bopp said. “That’s a very different experience than when the school finds out about something and goes to the student and says ‘this is what we found out.’”
Aside from the school’s lack of a zero-tolerance policy there are still other precautions the administration has made to help create both an alcohol and drug free campus.
These include the implementation of drug dogs on campus last year, the usage of breathalyzers at school events, the formation of the Student Assistance Program and the creation of many new school-oriented activities headed by Assistant Principal for Activities Mr. Jeff Glosser.
The recent development of the Student Assistance Program has, as Mr. Ryan said, “been effective in helping some boys and families deal with some pretty serious issues. Its purpose is to help students who find themselves in trouble or in the midst of it.”
The Student Assistance Program is a program that students can admit themselves to or be referred to by friends or faculty. It is designed to get students help with any substance abuse problem they might have through counseling and other methods.
Paul Pullin ’11 said he believes the SAP and lack of a zero-tolerance policy is in line with the Jesuit philosophy.
“I think the (lack of a) zero-tolerance policy is great and coincides with the Jesuit foundation of our school; it doesn’t base itself on black and white,” he said.
Pullin continued saying that “in society today young individuals are continually shown or influenced by drugs” and that drug-use is not so uncommon.
Roger Bond Choquette ’10 said he thinks not having a zero-tolerance policy is very realistic, “because it recognizes things that actually happen to guys now-a-days.”
Mr. Ryan and Mr. Bopp said students suspected of a drug violation may be asked to take a drug test. However, Mr. Ryan said random drug testing is not something he is in favor of.
Mr. Ryan also said although there are many preventative measures in place, it will always be the school’s goal to continue to reduce drug use. However, he said Brophy’s reach only extends so far and the school, and he, wants to work with parents to help protect students away from campus as well.
“We believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that we have a significant responsibility when we accept you and promise your parents that we’re going to educate you,” Mr. Ryan said. “But out responsibility has limits and we want to be in partnership with your parents.”
Roundup reporter Alex Pearl ’10 contributed to this report.
Normal procedure for drug dog searches on campus
By Dallas Ducar ’10
Brophy Dean Mr. Jim Bopp described the normal process for drug dogs visiting campus.
Step 1: Brophy gives the drug dog kennel a calendar of dates that work for the school for dogs to visit.
Step 2: The company talks with Mr. Bopp to ensure that the randomly selected date will work for both the students and the administration. Mr. Bopp said he is usually the only one who knows when the drug dogs are coming.
Step 3: The dogs are allowed on campus where they begin sniffing the campus for traces of illegal substances. If nothing is found the handlers and dogs leave campus.
Step 4: If illicit substances are found, Mr. Bopp is notified of the suspicion and the student is brought into his office, where a conversation regarding the instance ensues.
Step 5: In most cases the student undergoes a urine test by a professional laboratory.
Step 6: If the administration determines that the student has tested positive, they will determine a course of action. If the result is negative, the student receives no consequences. Mr. Bopp said the dogs have alerted to students in the past who have then tested clean.