Boy Scouts Join War on Drugs
IRVING, Texas (AP) _ The organization that helps youngsters ″Be Prepared″ now is urging them to ″just say no.″
More than 40,000 members of the Exploring program of the Boys Scouts of America are being enlisted in the war against drugs, and their weapons are persuasion and facts, said Brian D. Archimbaud, director of law enforcement Exploring.
″The whole purpose of the program is to affirm that it’s good, it’s OK to say ‘no’ to drugs,″ said Archimbaud. The program encourages Explorers, he said, to ″become role models and peer leaders to help other young people say ‘no.’ ″
Exploring is the scouting program that gives youngsters up to age 20 first- hand experience in more than 100 careers.
But Archimbaud said Exploring is not just designed to prepare young people for careers, but also for life. With that philosophy, six law enforcement Exploring posts around the country began experimental efforts in drug abuse prevention more than two years ago.
The pilot programs led to the federal government providing a $3,000 grant to publish a guidebook for all 40,000 law enforcement Explorers nationwide to join the effort, coordinated from Boy Scout headquarters in Irving.
Archimbaud said the program is supported mostly by Boy Scout funds and no additional federal grants are being sought. The big factor, he said, is the amount of time spent by the Explorers. Last year’s award for the most time spent in community service - 23,000 hours - went to the 30 members of the Phoenix, Arizona, police explorer post.
Archimbaud emphasized that the Explorers only give their peers information and don’t engage in any undercover detective work.
Persuasive information, not preaching against drugs, is the program’s approach, Yvonne Roque, a 20-year-old Explorer said.
″We are there to inform them how it can affect your body and your mind. We are just trying to inform them what the dangers of drugs are,″ she said.
She said she knows of 8- and 9-year-olds who have experimented with drugs, so, ″If we’re going to prevent drug abuse in the future, we have to start out in the elementary schools.″
Peer pressure often lures high school students into the drug culture, but C.T. Clark, another 20-year-old Explorer, believes the program can turn that around.
″We go in and use reverse peer pressure,″ he said. ″We emphasize that for every kid standing on the corner saying, ‘You have to use drugs or you’re an outcast,’ there are other kids saying, ‘Hey, you’re stupid 3/8’ ″
His post received a lot of thank-you notes for the lectures, Clark said, with one parent saying she didn’t realize her daughter had a drug problem until she attended an Explorer presentation.
″She got home, went into her daughter’s bedroom, snooped around and found some drug-related items. She confronted the girl and found out she had a problem - not only was she hooked on LSD and heroin, but she was four months pregnant,″ he said.
The mother thought she had an open and honest relationship with her daughter, but the girl said, ″I was just telling her what she wanted to hear,″ Clark said.
The key to enlisting parents in the battle, said Clark, is for youngsters to learn early to take their problems home to Mom and Dad.
Officer Mike Gifford of the Dallas Police Department, an adviser to Southwest Patrol Division Explorer unit where Clark and Ms. Yoque are members, also emphasizes the role of parents in the drug war.
″Parents can take a big step toward eliminating the problem by talking to their kids instead of just watching TV with them,″ said Gifford. He suggests that parents talk each night with each child about what happened that day.