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Viewpoint: Drugs are real concern

Last week I wrote a column about a hug. It was an issue I felt strongly about.

I had hoped to hear from readers about their thoughts. I wanted to hear a discussion about it. And, I did.

But what I didn't factor in was that by bringing the whole issue up in a public forum, I'd be unfairly singling out a few students at the high school. I've heard they've been caught up in this and for that I apologize. They did nothing wrong. Nobody did. If I would have just dumped the original letter in the garbage, they could have had a normal week. In hindsight, that is what I should have done.

It would have been best to simply have a discussion about hugging a teacher, and to not use that specific photo as the catalyst for the discussion.

I apologize to those who have been troubled by this. I'm truly sorry. Please realize that was not my intent.

Turns out, hugs are more controversial in Hastings than drugs are.

We've published a couple stories recently on heroin use in Hastings. We've published a recent story on how surveys show the percentage of alcohol abuse in Hastings is higher than surrounding communities.

None of those stories drew the kind of attention (in terms of comments, letters and phone calls) that my column drew.

We have to change that.

We need to redirect our outrage.

We need to be outraged that as a community, we've permitted a culture of acceptance toward underage drinking. The problem will certainly lead to a tragic event. If not now, later. Either way, it will happen.

And, after it does, we'll start to talk about the problem.

But why wait to be outraged?

In the last few weeks, groups have been meeting around Hastings to talk about the drug problem. Concerned parents are getting together. They've seen their sons and daughters struggle with drugs firsthand. And we're talking about heroin, among other things, being abused. Think of that: heroin!

Does every kid in Hastings have a drug problem? No.

Does every kid in Hastings shoot up heroin before going to class? No.

But you know what? There are some who do. Call me crazy, but that's cause for concern.