Sale of drugs at raves rampant, students say
Something should be done about the sale and use of drugs such as ecstasy and LSD at “rave” parties geared toward youth in Saskatoon, teens told police and school officials Monday during a city-wide forum for high school students.
“Everybody knows what’s going on at these raves. They’re distributing thousands upon thousands of pills of ecstasy, so many tabs of acid — like, everything is going on at these raves . . . and how can this go on?” one of the delegates asked during a presentation to police Chief Clive Weighill and two superintendents from the public and Catholic school divisions.
“That should definitely be something that should be looked into, because you’ve got younger and younger kids getting influenced by these raves and by these drugs and they’re taking it to school, to work, everywhere they go. It’s such a common thing these days,” the teen said.
The forum, entitled Speak Out Saskatoon, brought delegations of students from every high school in the city to an auditorium at Aden Bowman Collegiate for a day of discussion about their own perspective on crime and safety concerns. It was the fourth such event of its kind, say organizers with Saskatoon Crime Stoppers.
Two of the participants will attend a future board of police commissioners meeting to present the mayor and other civic leaders with a summary of the ideas the forum generated on topics ranging from vandalism and locker break-ins at school to reducing bullying and gang recruitment on the street.
Weighill thanked the students for their input, making special reference to the information about raves.
“It makes me think a little bit more about what we should be doing as a police service for that,” he said.
“Your thoughts here today have not gone unnoticed. They won’t just be sitting on a piece of paper, we’ll be taking them back and looking at them and working with them.”
The dangers of the downtown bus mall was a common theme of concern voiced at the event, as was the price of bus transportation, which is not covered by the school divisions and costs more for students in high school than for those attending university.
Weighill challenged the students to get their own social groups working on the gang problem, noting law enforcement can only do so much by arresting people and reacting to gang-related crimes. He told them teens who live with poverty and family problems usually get sucked into that lifestyle when they don’t feel accepted anywhere else.
“My message to you would be, if you see people on the fringe, help them fit in. Because if they don’t fit in, a lot of the things that you’re talking about are going to keep on going,” Weighill said.
“I can’t do that as an old guy in a uniform — I can’t make somebody fit into a school. It takes a little bit of a leap of faith sometimes, but everybody wants to be a part of something . . . and we really do need your help on this.”
School division superintendents John Dewar and John McAuliffe told the group their comments will be heard by school board officials.
“I want to make sure you’re aware that there is no simple solution. Just this morning in a meeting we were talking, not about gangs in high schools but some of the elementary-aged gang students,” McAuliffe said.
“And we know very clearly that when you go to a group of parents or students that are not in gangs themselves, they say the solution is to get those students out of our schools. Well, then if we also know that you need to have a sense of connectedness to not be in a gang, that flies in the face of the cure. So it is a really challenging situation. . . . I don’t think we have the answer, but you might.”
BY LORI COOLICAN,
NOVEMBER 23, 2009 9:35 PM