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New Boys’ Club Leader Denounces Drug Use

September 10, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The new leader of the Boys’ Clubs of America said Wednesday that 90 percent of his high school classmates in western Massachusetts use drugs or alcohol, and ″it really makes me mad.″

However, a police official in the youth’s hometown said there never has been any drug scandal in any of the community’s high schools.

Shawn Southard, 17, of Pittsfield, Mass., was picked Wednesday as the ″youth of the year″ of Boys’ Clubs, which serve 1.2 million boys and girls across the country.

Southard and four finalists for the title met with President Reagan, who is waging a new war against illegal drug use.

″I’ve never used drugs,″ Southard said afterward, talking with reporters in the White House driveway. ″I will never let it enter my body.″

He said young people were using drugs because of peer pressure, adding, ″It really makes me mad because we are the future.″

Declaring that ″we want to stomp out the drug problem in America,″ Southard said, ″I graduated in June and 90 percent of my class (at Pittsfield High School) uses drugs. It’s very serious. A lot of kids that I hang around with, I know they use drugs, I’ve seen them use drugs.

″The majority of the class is experimenting in using drugs,″ he added. ″Alcohol is the biggest drug, marijuana is the second (most) popular and cocaine is getting popular now. I don’t know why, but cocaine is.″

Contacted by telephone, Pittsfield police Lt. Gerald Lee said he could not estimate the extent of drug use at the school. ″I’d be shooting from the hip.″ However, he added, ″There has never been anything that closely resembles a drug scandal at Pittsfield High School or any of the high schools.″

Southard said that Reagan and his wife, Nancy, will be effective in the war against drugs but that young people, including himself, will have more impact.

″I think I’ll be more effective than the president because I will be able to work with the younger kids and be the impact on that, be able to work with them and give them my view and things of that nature,″ he said.

″I think myself and the four other finalists are going to be the most influential to the kids. They’re going to see somebody almost their age or around there and they’re going to listen to us. It’s going to work,″ the young man said.

He said the president and his wife were ″very effective in their ways. They get their point across. I think people understand that they are against drugs. But it has to be brought down to the grass roots to be really effective. It has to be brought right down to the 5-year-old kid on the street who is being approached about drugs.″

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