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Kids Should 'Be Proud' Not to Take Drugs, Officials Say

Police, school officials tell parents about the current trends of teenage drug use and how to combat the problem at a special information session Monday.

Detective Mike Zaccone addresses parents and students at a special forum about the dangers of teenage drug use and the school district's Be Proud Program. On the screen is a photograph of marijuana seized from a a vehicle a young adult was driving.
Detective Mike Zaccone addresses parents and students at a special forum about the dangers of teenage drug use and the school district's Be Proud Program. On the screen is a photograph of marijuana seized from a a vehicle a young adult was driving.

Students and parents received a crash course in illegal drugs, what they look like, and how stay off of them Monday night.

Detectives Mike Zaccone and Mark DuBois, the police department’s school resource officers, and other officials talked to a packed auditorium at Wayne Hills High School about the district’s Be Proud Program.

“We want your kids to have an out when they are hanging out with friends at a party and someone offers them drugs or alcohol,” said DuBois.

Participation in the program is voluntary. Participants are randomly tested for illegal and illicit drugs throughout the school year. Each student is given a number and each number is randomly chosen. Students turn in a urine sample that is then sent out for testing.

Officials are cracking more and more not just on alcohol and marijuana use, two gateway drugs they said can cause students to start using more expensive, more potent substances like cocaine, heroin, and prescription painkillers.

More and more parents are being charged with serving alcohol to minors at house parties. Parents are also giving their kids to rent houses down the shore after the prom. These houses often cost $20,000 to rent and are occupied by 20 or more students, often with no adults. Officials, the Wayne Council of Parent Teacher Organizations, and the Wayne Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse are trying to have more kids participate in Project Graduate after the prom. It is an all-night party held at a banquet hall or some other off-campus location free of alcohol and drugs.

Heroin and prescription drug use among teenagers and young adults is on the rise in North Jersey municipalities, including Wayne.

At a community forum held earlier this year, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said the Wayne ranked second behind Paterson in the number of overdose deaths in Passaic County from September 2012 to May 2013. Of the 44 deaths, seven occurred in Wayne, six more than from September 2011 to September 2012.

A Wayne high school student has not died from a heroin overdose in 10 years, officials said.

Of the 103 high school students tested during the 2012-13 school year under the school’s drug testing policy, 33 tested positive for banned substances. There was only one positive test taken from the 205 students tested enrolled in the Be Proud Program. The program is being offered to eighth graders for the third consecutive year.

“This isn’t a ‘gotcha’ program,” Zaccone said. “We want to help your kids and parents, you have to be diligent with this too. We need your help. We can’t do it alone.”

For more information or for help combating teenage drug use call Zaccone at 973-317-2207 or DuBois at 973-317-2051.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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