Will drug searches help?
At least twice a week my friend Luisa and I get hit with the horrible smell of weed as we’re walking to our third-period classes. We usually see the same three guys passing around a joint or a pipe. As we get closer to our classrooms the smell gets stronger and I can even taste the marijuana smoke.
“Where is security?” I think to myself. When the security guards saw me wearing something “inappropriate,” a shirt off the shoulder (even though I had an undershirt on), they followed me down the hall and said, “Excuse me, you cannot be wearing that.” But when people are smoking weed on the stairs as students pass by, the security guards aren’t there.
Every time I smell it I get mad and yell out comments like, “It smells like brain cells dying,” or “These people have no respect.” The smokers look at me and then go back to smoking. For students to be able to bring something illegal to school and not suffer any consequences pisses me off. This makes me feel like I go to a bad school. And it makes me wonder about my safety—if students are able to bring drugs on campus, then who would know whether they brought a knife or a gun.
We once told a teacher about the smoking and she agreed that someone should do something about it, but then she went back to teaching the class. It seems like she ignored the problem.
The school started taking it seriously
That’s why I was happy when my school sent a letter home in mid-January saying that they were going to start using dogs to search for drugs, alcohol and “dangerous objects.” I felt like they were finally doing something. I’m a senior and since freshman year, I’ve noticed the smell of marijuana smoke while walking around school. I think the dogs could get students to stop bringing drugs on campus.
Luisa agreed with me that the searches were a good idea. But my boyfriend opposed them. He said that since he’s a good kid, security shouldn’t be searching him and that these searches make everyone seem like a criminal.
I told him that the school has got to stop kids from having weed on campus somehow. I thought he would be in favor of it, because he walks by the people smoking marijuana, too. But he ignores the smoke and the smell. To me that is a big part of the problem—too many students don’t say anything about the marijuana smoking on campus and they’re sending the message that it’s OK.
Even though my boyfriend and I disagree, I understand how he feels. One time in 10th grade, a security guard came into our math class and told us to get out of the classroom and leave all our stuff in there. We went out in the hall and then two school security guards and one dog went in and searched through our stuff. They didn’t find anything and then they left. I was angry. I felt like they were saying that we were all criminals. I felt like they didn’t have a right to search through our stuff without at least explaining what was happening.
The biggest reason that I support the searches now is because this year the pot smoking has become a lot worse.
Two weeks after our school sent the letter, we had an assembly about school safety. It was led by one of the assistant principals, Mr. Ebanks, who is in charge of discipline and attendance. At the assembly someone from Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall talked to us about making sure that we do not engage in dangerous or illegal activities because if we do, we will end up at the detention center. They were trying to scare us, but I’m not sure it worked. Most of the seniors were attentive, but most of the freshmen were talking or giggling.
The dogs find the drugs by smell
Next, three deputies from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department talked about the K-9 program and demonstrated how the dogs search. There were four backpacks on the floor and the dog sniffed each one. When the dog found an odd smell in a bag, it would signal the sheriff by barking and moving its head toward the bag.
I was impressed and hoped that this might help stop people from bringing marijuana to school. The searches will be conducted periodically every two months, without any announcement. Mr. Ebanks said that they wanted to implement this program so that “students are encouraged to make the right decisions.”
I think that there should be better security at my school. Lynwood is not that safe. During junior year, a gang member shot a student in front of the school. The canine program seems like a good way to keep our school safe, but students should respect each other enough not to bring drugs on campus. Although I don’t feel that safe living in Lynwood, I think that students should at least feel safe at school.
Other stories by this writer …
You call that dancing? Jacky, 17, says that you don’t have to bump and grind to have fun on the dance floor. (May – June 2010)