Red Ribbon Week promotes drug-free nation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 21, 2001

Staff Writer

A desire to create a drug free nation continues this week as area students join law enforcement officers in a 14-year-old celebration.

Red Ribbon Week, which is observed nationwide to promote a drug-free America, will be celebrated Oct. 23-31.

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The red ribbon, which has become a symbol of the drug-free movement, was originated as a response to the death of Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena who was killed in 1985 by drug traffickers in Mexico. Parents upset over Camarena’s death at the hands of those bringing drugs to the United States began wearing red ribbons to symbolize their commitment to create a drug-free nation.

Three years later, Congress officially proclaimed the last week of October as National Red Ribbon Week and school children in Pike County will be celebrating the week through awareness programs.

Next week, some students will be visiting the Troy Police Department, where officers will talk to them about drugs and the serious problems illegal usage can create.

"The reason this emphasis is so great is because it’s a responsibility somebody has to take to educate our society, especially our young people, about the use and abuse of illegal substances," Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said of what his department does during Red Ribbon Week.

"We have to protect the city of Troy from this evil and we’re going to do it every way we can."

Schools throughout the county have scheduled a variety of programs and events, but it doesn’t have to stop there, said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the TPD.

"Many schools are support our efforts," he said, adding the goal is to make every effort to prevent usage at a young age.

He said he realizes anyone who wants to use drugs "bad enough" will and the police department has a job to "help those and put suppliers out of business."

Influencing children at a young age is the best means of defense against drugs, Scarbrough said.

"If we can make an impact at that point, we can make a difference," Scarbrough said.

"It’s our job to enforce the law and impress upon young people they can make the choice to be drug-free."

Scarbrough said Red Ribbon Week is a way to let young people know illegal drugs are not healthy for them.

"The bottom line is we want to instill in children they can be drug-free," Scarbrough said.

Educating them on the dangers of drug use and abuse is a way to let them know they have a "bright future ahead of them" that can be dimmed by such activity.

"We would like for students in our community to become involved in a creative way," Scarbrough said.

He said students can promote the cause of Red Ribbon Week through a variety of activities, such as wearing red ribbons, decorating their schools, making a drug-free quilt of colored felt and decorations, having theme days and inviting adult role models into the schools to speak.

Although the emphasis is being made in schools, Scarbrough said it’s important for churches and civic organizations to get involved, as well.

One way to do that is by wearing or displaying red ribbons or talking about the dangers of drugs and promoting Red Ribbon Week.