Bullish investment

To the editor:

I applaud LEN’s coverage of the “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids” survey in the Sept. 30 issue. I wholeheartedly agree with the nation’s law enforcement executives that we need to invest far more than we have in programs that help kids get a good start in life and grow up respecting our institutions, especially those of the justice system.

I also agree with the many public figures, notably Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, America’s drug czar, who have called upon parents to face up to their responsibility to get their kids to buy into our system of values. It has been repeatedly and correctly pointed out that many parents who grew up during the ’60s and ’70s have themselves used illegal drugs. This makes it difficult for them to speak with authority to their kids. We must find a way to guide those parents, help them formulate and communicate a deeply persuasive message to children that draws on their own life experience.

I would advise them to tell their children that the ’60s and ’70s were a time of skepticism, experimentation and euphoria. America was prosperous, people were educated and informed. People tried things they had not tried before, like protesting war, demonstrating for civil and human rights, the environment and other causes. They also tried drugs.

What we did not know was that drug abuse would get so far out of hand and would undermine all the good causes we believed in. We didn’t know that crack cocaine would devastate the minority populations of inner cities. We didn’t foresee that the drug trade would become so huge that it would corrupt entire foreign governments, bankroll vicious civil wars, enslave indigenous peoples, destroy vast stretches of the landscape, spawn violent gangs, and put more people in prison than ever before. We never wanted that.

We want this generation to accept our values but avoid the terrible mistake so many of us made. If that is how we answer young people when they ask “What did you do during the war on drugs, Daddy?” they will know us as we always thought ourselves to be  as men and women of conscience.

Constantine’s Circus Inc.
Albany, N.Y.

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Published in Law Enforcement News
Nov. 15, 1996.
© 1996, LEN Inc.