Drug Education:
Who is Teaching Our Youth?

In the next five minutes,
two American youths
will use illegal drugs
for the first time.

Suzanne M. Murphy, director of a drug treatment program in Brooklyn, reports that far younger children are taking drugs today than in the 1960s. "Twelve-year-old kids are literally slowed down because they’re not interested in physical activity or in any of the things they need to be doing.", she states.

The "Drug-Free Marshals" campaign is fighting back against such statistics. Aimed at youth from ages 6 to 15, the program has been described by Georgette Watson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Governor’s Alliance Against Drugs, as "A program that delivers self-worth to youth."

"The Drug-Free Marshals program targets the very young with education about the harmful effects of illegal drug use," said Watson.

Youth are invited to participate in a contest in which they answer the question, "How can I help to create a drug-free community?" Their ideas are communicated through writing essays or poems, drawing pictures or posters, composing songs or any other form of communication they choose. Winners are sworn in as Drug-Free Marshals -- and everyone is a winner in this contest because all who participate get the opportunity to become Marshals.

They receive a "marshals" badge recognizing their status and the right to swear in other kids and adults.

The program began in April 1993 when 200 children between the ages of 6 and 13 were sworn in as Drug-Free Marshals by the director of the FBI’s Drug Demand Reduction Program at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood. Community leaders and celebrities who attended included film stars John Travolta and Anne Archer, and Nancy Cartwright, the voice of television’s Bart Simpson.

In the summer of 1993, Drug-Free Marshals visited Washington, D.C., where they swore in congressmen and senators. Dr. Lee Brown, the "Drug Czar" responsible for federal drug policy, was sworn in at an event coordinated with the U.S. Marshal service. A real marshal administered the pledge to officials and to 150 inner city kids, each of whom had written essays or drawn posters describing, "How I can help create a drug-free community."

Since then, the campaign has spread to numerous cities across the U.S. More than 18,000 Drug-Free Marshals have been officially sworn in. They, in turn, have sworn in community leaders and state government officials and assisted in national programs such as Red Ribbon week.

"The youth in Massachusetts who have gone
through this program did not only
receive drug education,"
said Georgette Watson, "but have come out
with a feeling of self-worth, and I remember
the big smile behind the little badge that said,
‘I’m a Drug-Free Marshal.’"

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