Long Beach Tackles Youth Drug Use

Nickie Miller Sumiel is pointing out the the dangers of drugs and cigarettes to her 6-year old daughter Billie.

Billie's young eyes are wide with curiosity, as her mom tries to guide her to make wise decisions in the future.

"I think education - education and living by example probably would be the best two things that you know us modeling for our children and keeping them informed on things that are not just good for them but what's bad for them," said Suliel.

And these are the sentiments shared by community leaders and other parents who gathered at USM in Long Beach to talk about the drug problem among the city's youth and what can be done about it.

"Our students have used drug and alcohol less than they have in the past, and so we're going in the right direction," said Superintendent Dr. Charles Lyle.

But there's still a lot of work to be done.

According to statistics presented at the meeting, Long Beach students - ranging from 6th to 11th grades - are above the national average in drinking beer and smoking marijuana.

"Last year was a giant shock. It was a real wake up and place was packed because we sent letters out with some statistics that really gripped people. And since then, I think that parents have done a much better job talking to the children. We're real happy that the survey results that came back just recently showed that our young people are doing a better job in their substance abuse," said Long Beach Drug Task Force Chairman Fred Walker.

"We still have a way to go, but I think because of bringing awareness to the issue, I think we've seen some good improvement."

This is the second such meeting in a year, and organizers hope to develop programs in city schools and the community to keep young people away from drugs.