In just the past few weeks, three middle school girls in Kalispell were caught with synthetic heroin, a 12-year-old boy was expelled for having marijuana and a 14-year-old was kicked out of high school for having prescription pain killers.
These cases join a long list that reflects today’s drug culture among Flathead Valley youth, according to school resource officers.
“Every year it seems like these kids keep getting younger and younger when they’re introduced to these drugs. That’s a huge problem that we’re having right now,” said Jason Parce, a Kalispell law enforcement officer and school resource officer at Glacier High School.
At a gathering last week at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Parce and his colleague Cory Clark, an SRO at Flathead High, explained to parents and community members the latest details of the ongoing battle against underage drinking and drug use.
While alcohol remains a never-ending problem, marijuana and prescription pills have become primary drugs of concern at area schools, Parce said. Along with being regularly detected, the two drugs have become common forms of currency in the schools, he said.
Other intoxicating and illegal substances are becoming more common, too, such as synthetic marijuana called “K2” and “Spice.”
Parce said the Internet has made it easier for kids to discover legal ways to become intoxicated, which has led students to consume products like Formula 409 or Comet household cleaners or cough medicine.
“It’s really easy for them to find ways to get intoxicated,” he said.
Parce encouraged parents to remain actively involved in their kids’ lives and keep a close eye on their online activity, especially Facebook.
“I can almost guarantee you that a conversation is taking place on Facebook about drug activity,” he said. “Even the best of kids that we deal with on a day-to-day basis are often having conversations. They’re that close to it.”
Parce and administrators at Kalispell’s two public high schools have recently been struggling with anonymous Facebook groups that are posting inappropriate, and often illegal, information about students. Parce has alerted Facebook and tried having the pages taken down, but beyond that he’s unable to catch whoever is posting the material.
Linda Ravicher, the project director of the STOP Underage Drinking in the Flathead Coalition, urged attendees of last week’s gathering to be more aware of the reality facing their children.
“We as parents and grandparents and concerned citizens, if we know what is going on then we can start talking to our kids about it and looking for it and we can start trying to prevent those things,” she said. “It is unbelievable what the consequences can be.”
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