DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - Diamondhead City Hall became a classroom for young people and their parents this week. But the lessons weren't typical classroom fare. They were lessons in everything that could go wrong with bad decisions, from legal problems to suicide.
The first forum in Diamondhead was strictly for parents. This one was for young people. It was a good lesson that, unfortunately, was heard by only a few people. Only a handful of children were part of the 20-plus crowd.
That's not stopping Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam.
"Hell, it's worth the effort if one person shows up," he said. "If we're successful with one, it's worth everything we've done. ... We prevent one child from being molested, or one kid from smoking spice or taking their parents' pain pills, we've been successful."
Adam said that the current series of forums were planned before the high-profile spice deaths, hospitalizations, and arrests. He said there would be at least four more forums throughout Hancock County.
The first part of this week's forum was by the Waveland Police Department on cybercrime, including sex abuse and bullying on the internet. Young people got a lesson on what not to do with their phones.
It made an impression on Audrey Neal of Diamondhead, who attended the forum with her husband, two sons and her granddaughter.
"They think it may be minor one day and this is going to go on for the rest of their lives and the consequences and repercussions. They don't realize right now how important it is not to do the things that they may be doing," she said.
Adam said that while spice is a big problem all along the Coast, heroin is on the rise in Hancock County from New Orleans East.
"It's really scary knowing that we have 12-, 13-, 14-year-old kids getting addicted to pain killers and pills and knowing their next step from there is going to be heroin."
Added Neal: "Today's kids just don't realize what they're actually taking. The drugs that's on the market today are the street level drugs are getting even worse with the poisons like the marijuana. They're thinking it's just regular marijuana and ends up being all different kinds of things that's making the children die."