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Letters to The Editor: April 22, 2011

Anti-Drug Forum 

On Thursday, April 14, I attended a “Safe Kids, Safe Streets” Anti-Drug Forum held at the Hicksville William P. Bennett Community Center. The forum was hosted and organized by New York State Assemblyman Michael Montesano. The program featured expert panelists from the Nassau County Police, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, Nassau County Department of Mental Health and the New York State Drug Treatment Court.

Panelists agreed that parents are responsible for keeping their children drug free and never should turn a “blind eye” when their youngsters use alcohol, marijuana or tobacco, which are “gateway drugs” to further narcotic abuse. Parents must be involved and talk to their children about leading a drug free healthy lifestyle. Parents must make clear rules about substance abuse and enforce them. Research shows that as early as the fourth grade youngsters face peer pressure to experiment with alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Panelists spoke about heroin abuse and renewed use of opiate-prescription drugs that are “flooding our streets.” Prescription medication should be closely controlled at home and pills kept in a locked medicine cabinets.

Residents and panelists spoke about prevention, education, recovery and enforcement. The Sons of the American Legion publication, Gateway Drugs was handed out at the forum. It encourages parents and educators to go to the following websites: The American Council for Drug Education www.acde.org; The National Institute on Drug Abuse www.drugabuse.gov; Patnership for a Drug Free America www. drugfree.org; and The National Clearing House for Alcohol & Drug Abuse ncadi.samhsa.gov. The National Crime Prevention Council at www.ncpc.org is also an excellent resource.

We should thank the Nassau County Police, our New York State Police and our Federal agents for keeping our communities safe. Law enforcement faces street gangs, street level drug dealers, international drug cartels and terrorists. And also thank our police, guidance counselors and educators who teach drug prevention to our youngsters. The war on drugs begins at home with parents being involved and residents reporting suspicious and alleged drug activity to the police.

And I thank Assemblyman Michael Montesano and his staff for making the anti-drug forum a reality and I hope they are held on a regular basis. I thank the Town of Oyster Bay for providing the facility and Public Safety security for the forum. And I applaud the courage of residents who reported their concerns to police and officials at the forum. Together with Assemblyman Montesano they have taken steps to make Hicksville a safer community for our families and children.