As a middle school teacher, I am outraged by the type of information you have on the web. You are obviously endorsing the use of illegal substances, and you are kidding yourself if you think you are preventing "unnecessary danger." I hope none of my students find your site when researching the dangers of drugs.
Ravesafe is probably one of the few sites on the web that *DO* offer information on the dangers of drug use. If you managed to find it, the chances are good that your students will too. We neither endorse nor promote the use of drugs, but rather, offer as much information as possible, so as to engender information seekers with a sense of knowledge.
If you venture further into our web site, you'll come across a host of "safe raving" information as well as links to informative, related sites. Amongst all of this, you'll also find frightening real life experiences of drug abuse, misuse and despair.
There's only so much that educators like yourself and Ravesafe can do. The remainder is entirely in their hands. As it stands, wherever you may be, it's clear that prohibition doesn't work sufficiently well. We feel that offering them a fair and honest opportunity to make these decisions themselves, is the best opportunity they can get. Knowledge is power and kids aren't stupid ... or do we just continue stumbling along, wagging our failing fingers at them?
Concerned Teacher then replied:
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I sounds like we both want the best for our kids- and that does make me feel better about your site. I am not "wagging" my "failing fingers" at them. If fact, I am a young teacher, just out of the college scene myself, and I am also trying to present the students with information.
I just worry that your site comes off as making drugs sound less dangerous than they are...I can see my students thinking that if someone is telling them how to use them, they must be "kinda" safe.
I think our society is becoming too permissible. Our kids aren't stupid--you are right--but they are literally dying for guidance-
RaveSafe wrapped up:
It's not easy to solve, but rather another and perhaps more lateral (even modern) approach. If your students are below 16 or 18, in many ways I agree that the site may be seen to provide consent. At the same time, we don't really intend to engage with legally underage youth (In South Africa the legal age for rave parties is 18). However, there are literally masses of underage youth using drugs. On a physical level we only provide our information at these parties (sometimes as large as 40 000) and although we've been invited to some of the local schools, we've declined, for exactly your reasons, that we may be seen to be promoting drug use.
I took your initial reply seriously though, have shared it with our members and am sharing this reply with our web master and other concerned people amongst us, so as to gain from it and perhaps consider whether to add a more explicit cautionary message on our home page.
We've had many messages of encouragement and thanks for keeping Ravesafe visitors alive and aware of the risks, yet I consider your criticism just as valuable. As I mentioned, it's such a contentious and volatile subject. In South Africa there's little or no drug education in schools whatsoever and it's only been very recent that a formal recommendation has been made at national draft policy level (in which Ravesafe has been instrumental), to add drug education to the forthcoming education curriculum.
Without knowing the age of your students, please indulge me for a moment in a very real and all too common scenario - one possibly more responsible than any other, for misinformed drug use amongst youth:
As parents and peer educators, what inevitably occurs in old school philosophy is that kids are told that drugs will kill them. Although possibilities of fatalities do exist, this is a most irresponsible,
untrue and perhaps even, a critically dangerous statement. In truth, more people survive drug use than die from it. With intelligent and enlightened use, some have even benefited from it. As educators (I'm a father of a 9 and 12 year old), if we're to misinform our children, my feeling is that we'll lose every hope of credibility when it comes to the crunch - if my children are exposed (the older boy has
already), then their social peer pressure groups may force their curiosity and sense of adventure into secretive and underground experimentation, where any hope of honest and open communication may be threatened. Herein lies much danger through deceit and misinformation.
Curious youth are by nature, witness to their peer group's activities - they see them getting high or hear of the wonderful hallucinations, sensations and feelings. Yet often, particularly at a young age, they don't see any immediate degree of degradation - it takes some time to become addicted to certain drugs, whilst others are more immediate and dangerous and some, not addictive at all. Some have a potential to alter cerebral function either permanently or temporarily and some affect users more physically (lower resistance etc.). Some may do more harm than others (include here tobacco, alcohol and legal pharmaceutical drugs) whilst others, with enlightened use, do no greater degree of harm than the M.S.G. preservative in potato chips. (I forget the great American term ;)
Combined in all of this, is the predisposition that each individual's metabolic and cerebral chemistry, reacts uniquely to drug use.
To see this in perspective, one firstly has to unbundle the "all drugs kill" myth and then to follow with unbundling all the drugs, legal and illegal. To do this, each drug should be categorized into it's own group (opiates, cannabinoids, hallucinogens, depressants, alcohol etc.) and then further separated into individual substances.
As a suggestion, one might begin with alcohol, tobacco and perhaps the legal health store "smart drugs and drinks" and then move along progressively, as these are most generally where drug use begins.
More people die from tobacco and alcohol related use than "drug" use - the statistics are incomparable. More physical violence is attributable to alcohol than any other drug. More prostitution arises from the Heroin and Cocaine trade. Crack Cocaine is considered to be addictive after first use. Each drug is different!
Only once this information is understood, wherein each drug is given a reasonable identity, then we can begin to educate, or more easily, have people educate themselves. (We could do with the time out ;) The formula and means, for us, is relatively clear, it's just the getting there and end that's a little overwhelming.
> I am not "wagging" my "failing fingers" at them. If fact,
> I am a young teacher,
Please forgive my abrasiveness - I'm sometimes compelled to be direct and graphic, but with every good intent. You're not the educator to whom this statement applies.
> Our kids aren't stupid--you are right--but they are literally dying
> for guidance-- Thanks again, --
That's a powerful statement! And thanks to you too.
Friday 12th November 1999
Editors Note: Names have been removed, not because we have anything to hide, but the original conversation was done on a confidential note, so we have to respect that.
Disclaimer This Guide is provided for informational purposes ONLY. RaveSafe, it's volunteers and its sponsors do not condone or advocate the use of illegal substances. RaveSafe accepts NO responsibility for the way the information in this used, nor for any harm that might occur from the use of the information contained in this document. Although a concerted effort has been made to ensure the validity of the information contained in this document, no guarantees or assurances of accuracy are provided by anyone. Read and act at your own risk.