It's said that with its sophistication and charm, Sarasota is the gem of Florida's Gulf Coast.
However, our city, as beautiful as it might be, contains underlying issues -- some seldom addressed.
I've discovered through research that drug convictions in Florida made up 48.9 percent of its total criminal convictions in 2001. This is above the national average of 41.2 percent.
Being a part of the younger generation, I'm interested in this problem.
According to a survey, a higher percentage of middle- and high-school students in Sarasota have tried the specific drug OxyContin than in any other county in Florida. The 2002 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey reports that 5.9 percent of students in grades six through 12 in Sarasota County say they have experimented with the drug, compared with a 2.5 percent state average.
There are hundreds of reasons that teens will claim they try/use drugs. Many teens believe this is due to the lack of recreational activities available in our city. Drugs and alcohol have come to represent teens' last resort for entertainment. Perhaps making the few activities that are available more affordable to the youth of our city, or developing more clubs, organizations or hangouts, so to speak, would mean that a smaller portion of our younger generation will be part of that 48.9 percent.
As Whitney Houston once sang, "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way."
Take this quote to heart. I know that I'm not the only one in this city who feels this way. There are so many other teens dying to express their opinions on matters left unaddressed, which, hopefully, in time, will be resolved.