If you’ve read a newspaper or listened to the radio or television news lately, you probably have some grave concerns about incidents with the Mexican drug cartel and residents as well as the U.S. border patrol.
In addition to kidnapping and beating American youth before demanding ransom from their families, “Mexican drug cartels are luring youngsters as young as 11 to work in their smuggling operations,” according to Reuters. “The drug gangs have a chilling name for the young Texans lured into their operations.”
“They call them ‘the expendables,’” said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Investigators have evidence that six Mexican drug gangs — including the violent Zetas — have ‘command and control centers’ in Texas actively recruiting children for their operations, attracting them with what appears to be ‘easy money’ for doing simple tasks,” according to Reuters.
“Cartels would pay kids $50 just for them to move a vehicle from one position to another position, which allows the cartel to keep it under surveillance to see if law enforcement has it under surveillance,” McCraw said, according to Reuters. “Of course, once you’re hooked up with them, there’s consequences.”
Red Ribbon Week begins Sunday, and “it is a great time to talk with children, family or friends about how drug use (alcohol, inhalants, tobacco and illegal drugs) can destroy a person’s future and affect others around them,” according to the Coastal Health District website, www.gachd.org.
“The use of one drug, such as tobacco or marijuana, often leads to a person using other drugs. This is known as the gateway effect.
“The best way to stop this cycle is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” so learning about the harmful effects of drugs and how to say no is a very important lesson for everyone.
“Today, millions of Americans celebrate Red Ribbon Week as a way to bring awareness to the dangers and consequences of drug use and to honor Enrique Camarena, an undercover drug enforcement agent,” the website continued. “Enrique Camarena moved
to the United States from Mexico when he was 9 years old and dreamed of acquiring an education and working to protect people from illegal drugs.
“He earned a degree in criminal justice, served in the Marine Corps and became a fireman and a policeman before joining the Drug Enforcement Administration. He worked hard in an attempt to prevent drugs from coming into this country.
“While working undercover in Mexico, Camarena was discovered, kidnapped, tortured and killed. To honor Camarena, his family and neighbors wore red ribbons. As his story spread, people nationwide began wearing red ribbons in his memory as well.
“The purpose of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of a drug-free America. Red Ribbon Week offers an excellent opportunity to show intolerance towards the use of drugs
“Unfortunately, children are often the target for street drug sellers. They make easy ‘marks’ because of their inexperience and immaturity. There are five basic reasons that children use drugs: to relax and feel good, to take risks and rebel, to satisfy curiosity, to fit in and belong, and to feel grown up.
“All of these reasons can be prevented by a caring adult.”
Help ensure that children do not feel the need to use drugs by following these guidelines provided by the Coastal Health District website:
• Begin early: Start talking with children while they are in grade school about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
• Listen: Learn to listen to children and understand their concerns.
• Nurture: Help children feel good about themselves.
• Praise: Praise children for having the courage, strength and determination not to use or be involved with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
• Set: Neighbors, teachers and family must all join together to set a positive example.
• Strengthen: Help children develop strong values. Strengthen children’s sense of being a part of something greater.
• Assure: Assure children that they are not alone in dealing with peer pressure.
• Encourage: Encourage healthy, creative activities and encourage children to talk about their hopes and dreams. Give children solid guidance by setting boundaries and clear and understandable “no drug use” expectations.
• Get involved: Team up with other parents. Get involved with school or after school activities as much as you can.
Red Ribbon Week “is an ideal way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs,” according to redribbonweekresources.com.
The theme this year is “It’s up to me to be drug free.”
“Show your personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle” by wearing and displaying red ribbons during the week of Oct. 23-31, the Red Ribbon Week website said.
And don’t forget about the Suzie Q’s Art Your Bra contest and pancake dinner from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at Poole’s Deli.
Tickets for the pancake dinner cost $7 and are available through the health department. The bras will be on display before dinner so you can vote for this year’s winner.
Before you get your pancakes and chuckle over the outrageous bras, you might want to stop by the farmers market and check out the Suzie Q’s book sale, “Books for Boobies.”
I told you these folks have a great sense of humor! The Suzie Q’s recently received several new donations, and you certainly can’t beat the prices — $1 for paperbacks and $2 for hardbacks.
Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.