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D.A.R.E. – To Use Your Words (Or Not)

Well. Well. Well.

How shall I begin this lovely tale? Hmm…let’s start with the fact that we live in America, where ‘Freedom Of Speech’ reigns (supposedly).

Let’s also take into consideration that if you give a teenager any latitude to work with, they will run with the opportunity to voice their opinions. Or make a statement. Or argue for the sake of arguing. That’s what teenagers do. My son is no exception. He just happens to be a pretty smart kid, with an Adult Sense Of Humor.

Before I begin, it is of utmost importance to preface this post with yet another piece of vital information. My son HATES, LOATHES, ABHORS that I smoke. He always has. He has been begging me For Years to “please quit smoking.” He used to hide my cigarettes, he used to break them in half, he has flushed them down the toilet bowl, and he is forever yelling at me while reciting all of the damaging effects smoking causes the body, skin & brain.

Keeping all of that in mind let me set up the latest scenario.

JCH has just completed The D.A.R.E. Program in school. A program that I think is a very important within our school system. These days, it is never too early to teach our children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

After the 12 week D.A.R.E. Program ended, my son had to write an essay, regarding his opinion of the program. He was asked to write a paper whether he did, or did not like the class, and if he had learned anything from the program or not.

My son opted for the “he did NOT like the program or learn anything” route. (There’s A Big Surprise.) Any chance to argue or drive home a point will light a fire under my child’s ass.

Here is the problem:

I received a phone call from his homeroom teacher. She sounded rather upset when she told me that she considered JCH’s paper about The D.A.R.E. Program to be inappropriate. Moreover, the Police Officer who was responsible for running the classes was equally as offended.

Apparently when they ask, “Please tell us what you did or did NOT like” … that really means, “Write a ‘Glowing Review’ about this program…Or Else!”

Not having personally viewed a copy of the actual essay, I cannot say for certain whether or not, my child was being disrespectful, or, if he was simply voicing his opinion. Although, it is very possible JCH said what I am about to tell you, with the sole intent of being ‘sarcastic’.

JCH wrote about how he felt he had learned nothing from The D.A.R.E. Program, because his mother has been teaching him not to use drugs since the day he was born. And, how he couldn’t really get behind their ‘smoker-bashing’ position. JCH thought the ‘program’ was a little too harsh on the cigarette industry as a whole. So, in his essay, he decided to make this bold statement…

“After completing this program, I just feel badly for the cigarette manufacturers. In fact, when I grow up I think I am going to get a job with the tobacco companies and work as a lobbyist for them.”

Um. Wait. And what am I supposed to do with that?

As far as I am concerned, that answer is far more creative than any argument I would have ever been able to come up with. I would be a liar if I said that sentence didn’t make me laugh.

(Not that I am promoting cigarette smoking, on any level, to anyone…Ever. “Smoking is bad M’kay.”)

The school on the other hand does not feel this was a creative response. In fact, they are trying to figure out an appropriate ‘punishment’ for his ‘sarcasm.’

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ?

I have never been one of those parents who turn a blind eye and say, “Not my kid.” I have always, always, ALWAYS, supported the school when faced with previous situations wherein JCH did do something wrong. I am the first person to call my son an “ASSHOLE”, when he is being an Asshole.

But…in this case? I am sorry. I CANNOT seem to get behind the school on this one.

They OPENED THE DOOR.

For the first time (ever) in my son’s defense, he has been attending The Same School for Three Years now. They are fully aware of his Adult Sense Of Humor.

Why ask him to give his opinion if they didn’t really want to hear what he has to say? And now…they are PUNISHING HIM? Why would any school suggest that a TEENAGE can and should express themselves; only to punish them for the reply?

I am sorry. That school may be punishing my kid. But, I am taking him out for Ice Cream. I still cant get over the fact that he knows what a lobbyist is.

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