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School Fight Sparks Discussion on Drugs in Schools

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

April 10, 2014 – The recent altercation at Santa Monica High School involving a student who was allegedly selling drugs and a teacher has raised questions of drug use in local high school students.

More than one third of junior high school students have used drugs, according to the 2012-2013 Healthy Kids Survey conducted by the California Department of Education.  Seven percent of seventh graders and twenty one percent of ninth graders also used drugs in the same time period.

According to the 2012-2013 Youth Wellness Report Card released by the Santa Monica Cultural and Communities Department, 41.7% of Santa Monica youths have reportedly used substances, including alcohol, over the previous month.

“Young people want to be independent,” said School Board member Oscar de la Torre to the Lookout.  “It’s seen as an adult thing to do.  Drug use is a way for young people to seem grown up and mature.”

De la Torre, who heads the Pico Family and Youth Center, believes drug use at Santa Monica High School is not as high as other school districts, but still sees it as a big problem.

“Santa Monica High School is a little different than other high schools in the country.  Drug and alcohol use is a problem and is, unfortunately, almost a part of growing up in America,” De la Torre said.  “The majority of our students are drug free. However, a good 30% will probably try alcohol or marijuana before graduating from high school and those numbers are very high.”

The School District provides help for students with substance abuse problems, district officials said.  They include counseling for students and parents at organizations such as Angel’s at Risk and support through drug treatment programs.

De la Torre is part of a growing movement in America that believes schools should be involved in a more comprehensive discussion about drugs.

“This is not just a problem for the young people.  It’s a community issue,” he said. “It’s not just the issue of a drug dealer in Santa Monica High, dealing marijuana in a dark alley.  It’s a much more complex discussion.  We have to have an honest discussion about drugs.  Young people are not buying into the fear tactics that has been used since the ‘80’s.”

Santa Monica student Blair Moore was confronted on April 4 by Santa Monica science teacher and wrestling coach Mark Black when he allegedly witnessed the student selling marijuana in his classroom. When Black approached him, Moore allegedly threw a punch, sparking a physical altercation. 

Moore was later arrested, along with another unnamed 16 year old male, and charged with possession of marijuana, threatening a school official, possessing a box cutter and for “violence against a school employee in retaliation for an act performed in the course of his or her duties,” according to the Santa Monica Police Department.

The district is currently working on better means towards handling drug use in high school students, according to officials.

“The first thing we have to do is to provide honest communication,” De la Torre said, “The federal government has lied to young people for ages that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin. And now, states are making marijuana legal,”
“We need to inform (students) of the dangers of all drugs, but at the same time, we need to be honest with them.”

“We haven’t had a talk about the kind of impact that trauma and addiction has on the decision to use drugs,” he added.

The City will be releasing an updated version of the Youth Wellness Report Card on April 26.  For more information or to view the 2012-2013 Youth Wellness Report Card, visit

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