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Drug Testing News

Parent Aid tests kids for drugs


JOHN DORAN
Appeal Tribune
September 17

The Silver Falls School District has a surefire means to tell if students are using drugs.

Test them.

For the past three years, the school district, in conjunction with the Silverton Police Department, has offered a program for parents concerned about their children’s habits. It’s called Parent Aid, and it allows for a free drug test of all students up to age 17.

It’s free. It’s quick. It’s accurate. It’s confidential. School resource officer Terry Murphy, one of two members of the police department trained to give the drug tests, says these are only four of the good reasons this program is a success.

“If a parent comes in we will do a urinalysis right there,” Murphy said Monday from Mark Twain Middle School. “If it comes back positive, we give them places they can take their child for help. That is where it ends.”

The police take no legal action. They only record the statistic of whether it is a boy or girl and whether he or she tests positive or negative.

“We do it right in front of them and they get the results right there,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he’s performed 26 tests since the program was implemented three years ago. Parent Aid began as an idea by a Coos County officer who constantly had parents approaching him to see if there was a way to find out if their children were using drugs.

The test checks for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines (meth) and heroin. Murphy says alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly used drugs in the area, but the test does not detect alcohol. Murphy said meth use is a close third. The Parent Aid program is funded through the Oregon Chiefs of Police Association.

Juvenile crime statistics in Silverton support the fact that there is a problem with drugs. Marion County is one of six counties in Oregon labeled a high intensity drug trafficking community. Silverton Police Chief Rick Lewis said that is primarily because of meth.

In Silverton in 2002, there were 48 minor in possession of alcohol citations. There were six cases of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Minor in possession of tobacco citations totaled 14.

Through June this year, there have been 68 minor in possession of alcohol arrests. There have been 11 arrests made for possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school.

Drug use is trickling down to the lower grade levels, not just high school. Children are using drugs and alcohol at younger ages.

“You get more users, which gets more pushers,” Murphy said. “The pushers are looking for new buyers. Where are your new buyers going to be and who are the most impressionable? They are the young kids.”

Murphy said the telltale signs a child is using drugs are a drop in grades, depression and a lack of interest in anything other than hanging out with friends.

With marijuana, kids get glassy-eyed and have a diminished energy level. With meth, kids become so hyper and talkative that when they finally do come down they crash for a day or two before they can get back on their feet.

He adds there is no one reason why kids use drugs.

“There is no one thing that you can put your finger on to fix it,” Murphy said. “A lot of it today is the peer pressure. It is just horrendous these days.”

The benefits of catching users early, which is the target of Parent Aid, goes beyond the scope of not using drugs.

“Their school grades are hopefully going to be better, so you have the education part of it,” Murphy said. “The list can go on and on.”

Parents who want the anonymity of their child intact, but who would like to know for sure if that child is using drugs, may turn to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office or Molalla Police Department for the same test.

“I tell the parents the best way of doing it is to bring them in on a Monday morning and not tell them they are going to take the test,” Murphy said. “Just bring them in and do the test. That will be the best indicator if the child is using or not.”

While juvenile crime statistics have gone up, mainly due to minor in possession of alcohol and marijuana being added to the juvenile municipal court last year, not all news produced by the Parent Aid program is bad.

The last 10 tests Murphy has performed? All came back negative.

To schedule a Parent Aid drug test, or for information on the program, contact Murphy or Dori Elliott at the police department, 503-873-5326.

“It may well save their life,” Murphy said.