Chesterton Tribune

Editorial: Call to action against drugs

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A Tribune Editorial

Americans are justifiably suspicious of newspapers, of their intentions and their commitment.

Either we pursue a story with the obsessiveness of a dog worrying a bone, or we neglect it altogether. And sometimes we do both in quick succession. On Monday the headline screams for your attention in 36-point type. On Tuesday we consign the item to page 4. On Wednesday we simply spike it. Readers may be excused if they take to skimming and doubting.

But one story would be difficult to over-play and unforgivable to bury: Duneland’s drug problem. It threatens our children, our business, our future.

In March 1998 the Chesterton Tribune was the first newspaper in the region to cover the resurging popularity of heroin, in a profile of Mike, an undercover officer with the Porter County Narcotics Unit. So outlandish did Mike’s warnings seem to the reporter who broke the story—we live in Duneland, after all, not in Gary or Michigan City or Chicago—that he largely dismissed them as alarmism and turned his attention to other matters.

Meanwhile, children began to die in Porter County.

Now, in the spring of 2001, as Duneland still mourns the recent loss of two of its own to heroin, even that skeptical reporter is convinced. Yet—though he’d been content to disbelieve—others were not. They met, they organized, they publicized. They became the Community Action Drug Coalition.

And one week from today, from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 27, at the Porter County Expo Center, the Community Action Drug Coalition is sponsoring a symposium on the drug problem. Two experts are scheduled to speak, but—as Pat Bankston, a member of the coalition, says—“The main purpose of the meeting . . . is for attendees from all walks of life, professions, and ages to suggest in break-out sessions how they can form groups to join the coalition to help fight the growing drug problem.”

The Tribune urges all parents to attend, and to attend with their children.

All employers. Teachers. Coaches. Youth ministers.

Police. Judges. Doctors. Nurses.

None of us wants to admit that our children are vulnerable, no more than we want to admit that they’re mortal. Acknowledgment is a hard thing. It means that our suburban homes, our school system, and our very love itself are not enough to save our youth. The first step to a solution to the problem, though, is the recognition of a problem. The lives of our children are worth that much.

Not everyone is a parent, of course. But our stake is not for that reason any less. Business requires dependable and honest workers. As property owners we expect our possessions to be secure. As motorists we require our roadways to be safe. But drugs turn addicts into lying, thieving, reckless anti-citizens who jeopardize the foundations of the community.

Addiction affects all of us, where we live and work and play.

Attend the symposium. Involve yourself. Pledge yourself to the health of your children and the well-being of Duneland.

There is no cost and a light dinner will be served, but attendees must register by 5 p.m. Monday. In Valparaiso call 464-4668. In the rest of Porter County call (800) 568-4668.