Last week, on the very day that Mayor Palmer DePaulis pledged to honor his task force's recommendations for a drug-free Salt Lake, young drug users were testifying before Congress in Washington, D.C.
They were 17 years old, most of them. All were former drug abusers.They told the House of Representatives that they learned substance abuse at home. They had parents who abused alcohol.
Their words have significance for the mayor and for others who would like to see a drug-free city. First, "Education has to start from the lower grades," the youngsters said. Second, if parents could be helped their children would have a better chance of avoiding drugs.
The mayor's task force suggested a wide variety of approaches to solving local drug problems. They suggested being tougher on criminals, for instance, and other ideas we've heard before.
In the areas of prevention and education, the task force recommendations, while not exactly novel, seem especially sensible in light of what young drug abusers are telling us.
The task force members focus on the workplace as the place to help grown-ups who already have a drug problem. They call for drug-testing - and more. Insurance companies should provide assistance for employees, they said. Businesses should hold seminars for employees and do all they can to help their workers who have substance abuse problems.
Productivity. That was probably the idea behind the recommendations that we help this generation of employees.
But the most important outcome of the task forces' recommendations could be one they didn't foresee: If their parents can stop using drugs, the next generation will have a better chance of growing up drug-free.