Others spoke of “pill parties,” where teens bring prescription or over-the-counter drugs and share them with classmates. Along with new trends, teens are also depending on more familiar sources to get high, such as paint fumes, airplane glue and gasoline fumes.
Mullett said that high-profile incidents like the ones at Bethlehem High School stir up emotions in a community.
“That’s very much a typical response,” said Mullett. “When there’s a crisis situation, people tend to think, ‘Oh my, it happens here.’ The reality is that there are kids suffering from substance abuse, whether it is legal substances or illegal substances.”
Rev. Robert Foltz-Morrison said that teenagers will hang out on the church’s property at times and said that he will sometimes engage them to see what they are talking about and what they’ve heard. That was part of the inspiration for the forum.
“We need to talk to each other,” said Foltz-Morrison. “We don’t necessarily have the budget always available to do this, but if we have the will to talk to each other, I think that’s important that we all be engaged about the concerns we have for our community and how we can all help each other.”
Many in the audience expressed how difficult it is to get everyone – the district, police, residents and students – on the same page and working together. Mullett urged the audience to keep in touch with the district and to request that community issues be addressed.
“I think the biggest thing as parents that you can do is push the schools and say, ‘Hey, can we open the schools and have a discussion about the substances?” said Mullett. “Because, if my son or daughter or grandchild or neighbor or somebody’s kid is struggling, they can’t be the only one. Talk about it. Bring the issues out.”
Mullett warned the audience that in many communities, it is easier to find marijuana in a school than it is to find a cigarette. He told those in attendance that because of the economy, many teens are turning to cheaper alternatives to simulate the sensation of being high, such as sniffing nutmeg or pepper.