Newtown Bee Commentary by Dorrie Carolan & Donna DeLuca
“Nicer in Newtown!” Does it still mean what it used to, or has it taken on a different connotation these days, especially to our youth? Are we still that warm and friendly quaint New England town, where folks flock to settle in the beauty of the Connecticut countryside, secure in the knowledge that Newtown is a wonderful, safe haven in which to settle and raise their children free from the dangers that plague most neighborhoods across the country today? Or have we, right here in our own little hometown, become a community in crisis?
It is a hard, cold fact that there has been for some time a culture of substance abuse among our youth that has escalated so greatly in recent years that we now find ourselves in what is undeniably a crisis. It is shocking for most of us, and scary for all, to hear that word on the street in many of our surrounding towns is that heroin is now the “drug of choice” in Newtown!
With this knowledge comes a new awareness that forces us all to realize it is past time we wake up to the fact that no place is perfect, and that we are never totally sheltered from the realities of the world in which we live. The sad truth of the matter is that no town in which we choose to reside today is completely immune to the temptations that exist all around us. We can continue to deny their existence in our midst, as many have done for some time, for that is the easiest way to cope with the fear of the truth, or we can choose to come together as a community to address this urgent matter.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “We gain strength and courage, and confidence, by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” The time has come to face this challenge strait on, for Fairfield Hills, open space, and the myriad of other local issues demanding our attention these days pale in comparison to this serious problem presently affecting the future well-being of so many of our children. We can and we must face this challenge immediately. In order to effect a lasting change, however, we must all be willing to stand together, armed with the facts, educated in the issues and how to deal with them, and unified in a single goal of helping each other help our kids. We can and we must commit to providing a happy, healthy, safe, and drug-free environment, in which the children of Newtown can live, play, learn, and grow.
To accomplish this each and every one of us must first open our minds, eyes, and ears to the truth, and in doing so, be willing to stand together and do our part in whatever role we play in the community, to assure the success of this mission. Personal experience with a problem is by no means the only criteria for being involved in both formulating and implementing a solution to it. Equally important is taking a proactive stance in the prevention of any future substance use or abuse in one’s own family. Working together and supporting each other is the best start, but we cannot fix a problem if we continue to deny its very existence. It is only in accepting that we have a serious problem that we can begin to move forward in a positive fashion as responsible and caring parents and residents of Newtown.
Beginning in September, the Parent Connection will be holding a series of open forums. Every parent in Newtown should attend, in an effort to become more educated regarding the real issues that face our young people – those as young as 10 and 11 years old. A “Support and Hope” group for concerned parents will also meet on Mondays at Newtown Youth Services from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. Please join this grass roots effort to reclaim a safer environment in which our children can thrive. We don’t want our children to feel that it’s only “Nicer in Newtown” these days because it’s easier to get high!
(Dorrie Carolan and Donna DeLuca head The Parent Connection, a group dedicated to fighting teen substance abuse.)
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