There is no doubt about it: Talking to your kids about drugs is one of the best ways to keep them from abusing them.
This is the advice that Miami-Dade Schools Police Officer Orlando Gutierrez, a 14-year veteran, gives parents during several meetings he has with PTAs and PTSAs throughout the year.
“I know it’s hard to talk to your kids about this,” Gutierrez told a group of parents at Ronald Reagan/Doral Senior High School Wednesday night.
“It’s not comfortable. Sometimes we think we’re giving them ideas, right?”
Don’t worry, he said. You’re not.
You’re also not alone. Miami-Dade Schools Police have several anti-drug programs in our schools that not only helps curb the use of illicit drugs but also provides a safe and welcome environment that students feel they can trust.
Schools Police work with Miami-Dade Police in the DARE program for fifth graders.
“But teenagers have to be approached differently,” Gutierrez said. And honestly, he added, urging parents to do research and become informed before they have the “drug chat.”
“You can’t go in and say, “Marijuana will kill you.’ Because they know that’s not true,” Gutierrez said. “They know more than we do. We have to tell them the truth. And we have to know what we are saying.”
And you have to know that drug use today is more than just the street drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Police are confiscating more and more prescrption drugs from teens at school.
“They take them from their parents,” Gutierrez said.
He knows how to talk to kids because Gutierrez makes 40-minute presentations about 60 times a year to classrooms of high school students, where he talks to kids about the dangers of drugs and how to address peer pressure.
“They are curious and it is better that they hear about it from us, so they know the full impact of drug use on our society, than from their friends or TV,” he says.
While many parents do talk to their kids and think they know how to, Susana Sayegh, whose daughter is in 10th grade, said it was reassuring to hear tips from Guiterrez and to know that Miami-Dade Schools Police officers are so attentive to her children and their friends.
“I feel like I’m in Disneyland,” said Sayegh, who said that she did not have such support in her native Venezuela.
“They are an incredible resource that many people don’t know about and we are lucky to have them,” Sayegh said.
If you want Miami-Dade Schools Police to talk to your PTA or PTSA about how to address teenagers on drug abuse prevention, or just in general about policing your schools, send an email to schoolspoliceFOP@gmail.com or call 786-853-8724.