Long Beach Parents Ready To Fight Teenage Drug Use

A framed, unfinished poster hangs on Jean Rapp's wall. Her daughter Melanie was working on it right before January 4th. That's the day she overdosed on drugs and died.

"I cry a lot," Mrs. Rapp said. "I ask God why he took my daughter."

It wasn't until Melanie's drug induced death that Mrs. Rapp found out her 22-year-old daughter's drug and alcohol problems dated back to the fifth grade.

Mrs. Rapp just wrote a speech that she'll read next week. In it, she said she learned the hard way that parents must wake up. "It's not your role to be their friend," she wrote. "It's your responsibility to be their parent."

Lately, parents like Jean Rapp have gotten together to say enough is enough. They're part of the Long Beach security task force. It originally formed several years ago to deal with bomb scares.

Monday the task force will hold a meeting to tackle teenage drug use.

According to the confidential internet survey done by Long Beach students, one out of every four city sophomores smoke marijuana. About 9 percent of Long Beach's eighth graders and 4 percent of the city's sixth graders use cocaine.

Task force member Fred Walker said the entire community must find a way to keep drugs away from kids.

"A lot of parents have maybe have been in denial for some time," Walker said. "But there are some things going on that we need to be aware of. And we need to know how to deal with our children."

Otherwise, Jean Rapp said your family may suffer just like she did, when drugs killed Melanie McLauren. Rapp warned parents not to "become a victim like I've been" and lose a precious child.

The Long Beach security meeting focusing on drug use is Monday night at six. It will be held at USM Gulf Park's new auditorium.