Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

LETTERS: Readers respond to 'Epidemic'

  • By
  • | 4:00 a.m. September 29, 2010
  • East County
  • Opinion
  • Share

Last week, The East County Observer published an article titled “Epidemic.” It focused on Justin Lizardi, the 20-year-old who in July was caught burglarizing homes in Heritage Harbour. His family shared details about Lizardi’s longtime addiction to drugs, which he began using while a student Lakewood Ranch High School.

In the wake of the story, we were flooded with responses. Many of those who wrote or called were affiliated with Lakewood Ranch High School. They said the story damaged the school’s reputation; others said the report was a much-needed dose of reality.

The Lizardi family’s story and all their quotations in the report were an account of their experience — not a condemnation of the school.

The sidebars, which included interviews with Lakewood Ranch Principal Linda Nesselhauf and Braden River Principal Jim Pauley, presented the larger view of the drug epidemic in the East County — which, make no mistake, is a part of teenage life in our society.

Below are some of the responses — positive and negative — we received.

— Michael Eng

+ Article perpetuates Lakewood Ranch myth
Dear Editor:

 I am extremely disappointed in your newspaper for its irresponsible journalism in the “Epidemic” article.
With one brush, your two “reporters” have painted Lakewood Ranch High School in a most unfavorable light. They used the comment, from the sibling of a serial burglar, that “everyone knows Lakewood Ranch was the place for drugs.”

Your paper is perpetuating a myth without any basis in fact or substance. I find it offensive and sensationalistic. I also am outraged that your news editor and your executive editor are the two “reporters.” 
I have asked everyone on my mailing list to contact any advertiser in your paper that they may know and express their dismay with your reporting.

Todd Sears, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Let’s stop the blame game and face reality
Dear Editor:

I am a parent who had two children who attended Lakewood Ranch. One child graduated with honors, and the other did not. One child never smoked or took a drug; the other did both. One child at 22 years old does not drink or do drugs; the other at 20 has been 14 months sober after an addiction to prescription drugs.

Is the school to blame, are we as parents to blame, or is this epidemic of prescription drugs to blame?

How about this: Let’s stop blaming and face the reality. Lakewood Ranch is infested with prescription drugs. Please do your homework. Go daily to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and read the daily arrest reports. Each day, you will see “good” kids being arrested. “Good” kids just like yours who made the decision to try that pill just once and became addicted. “Good” kids who live in Lakewood Ranch, Greenbrook, River Club and Heritage Harbour.

Why does someone like Janice Spring come public and share her grief? She does it because she does not want another parent to live through the hell she lives each day.

So, I am a parent whose children attended Lakewood Ranch. I am a parent who left and will never look back at the town that was my home for 20 years and now is just a sad reminder of what my home was before prescription drugs took control.

Please wake up before we lose one more child. Stop blaming, become educated and stop the destruction of our kids and your community.

Terri Hesemann, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Ranch High a great place for education
Dear Editor:

Not clear of all of your sources but wanted to give you another side of the story.

I really wanted my son, now a sophomore at Lakewood Ranch, to consider attending Braden River when he was an eighth-grader deciding where he should go for high school. The reputation of Braden River was that it was a safer school that was more disciplined and had a greater focus on academics, and good behavior was expected.

I’ve volunteered at Braden River for Challenge Day and as an evaluator for senior projects, so I can tell you first hand that Braden River has some amazing students and teachers. My letter to you should not be construed as a criticism to Braden River in any way.

As you may already have guessed, my son chose to attend Lakewood Ranch High School.

He has excelled at Lakewood Ranch, his grades have improved, his self-esteem soared, peer interaction increased and he has lost more than 40 pounds. He is a starter as an offensive lineman on the JV football team and has more school spirit than I ever dreamed possible from this intelligent, reserved and lazy teenager. His teachers and the office staff are very responsive and seem to care about my son.

He is not afraid to go to the restroom alone, is not spending large sums of money on illegal substances and has not been arrested for any crimes.

It is tragic when families have to deal with the loss of a loved one — whether it is through incarceration or death, and my heart goes out to those families. But you cannot blame it on a teacher, a school, a neighborhood or an area. I have lived in Ohio, Kentucky, California, Arkansas and now Florida. There have been drugs in every high school, and unfortunately, it does seem to be more prevalent in schools where the kids come from middle- to higher-income families.

My point is that it is unfair to characterize Lakewood Ranch High School as a “problem area” when the majority of the students (just like Braden River High School) are good kids, getting good grades dreaming of what it will be like when they finally graduate and get to be an adult.

Lay off the generalizations and give some credit back to the caring administration, teachers and parents of Lakewood Ranch High School.

Debbie Ainsworth, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Observer should be applauded for story
Dear Editor:

I would like to thank the staff of The East County Observer for your article “Epidemic” and for reporting on such a sinister problem in our society today — the prevalence of prescription drugs and their abuse.

As I read the initial comments criticizing your topic and the specific quotes chosen, I am saddened by the quick judgment and especially the misinterpretation of the issue. It is unfortunate that only one school was the focus when so many schools in this country have similar problems and deaths and devastated parents who thought they were involved, who thought they provided all the guidance necessary to help their children make wise choices.

I applaud the parents who came forth to tell their story because it is a painful one. I know the stigma associated with sharing a child’s addiction, and yet there are wonderful people in our county, in our state, in our country, who work tirelessly to educate and to help the bereaved.

Thank God for them.

I am a parent who lost an adult child because of an accidental overdose. In my son’s case, it was a pain patch — designed for transdermal use — that he ingested. This was a new story to me. Pain patches used for terminally ill patients are now on the street and extremely addictive and dangerous.

The loss of a child is devastating, and that child will never be forgotten by his or her parents. I hope we can celebrate their memory and possibly help another by telling our story of tragic loss.

Finally, I applaud our community, the county and the school employees who are vigilant and educated and willing to work toward a solution rather than a judgment.

Thank you to the editor of The East County Observer for taking the risk to report on an important story, which like it or not, affects us all.

Linda Lawrence

+ Article singles out Lakewood Ranch
Dear Editor:

I must comment on your article titled, “Epidemic.” The article details why/how Justin Lizardi went from an honors student in his hometown in Mississippi to a drug user/poor student/dredge of society criminal. There were several references to why his spiral downturn happened, but ultimately, his personal choices sealed his fate.

The disturbing part about this article is the lack of personal responsibility Justin took to heal himself. And, he was given every opportunity by what appears to be a conscientious, loving family. However, to blame the “drug situation” at Lakewood Ranch High School was ridiculous. Talk about an unfair public assessment of Lakewood Ranch.

Your article reported Justin transferred to Braden River High School, where he continued his contacts with previous friends (are we to assume Lakewood students?) He then was expelled from Braden River High School because of conflicts off campus. I read where his drug use continued and ultimately lead him to a burglary arrest involving several victims ­— in the neighborhood (by the way) — which is districted to Braden River High School.

Please: Your article makes the reader believe that Lakewood Ranch is a drug haven for student dopers. Personal choice was the killer here. Justin and the Lizardi family made choices throughout Justin’s struggle. Lakewood Ranch and the fine student body did not guide Justin to poor choices. Again, your paper assumes a negative on Lakewood Ranch.

I look forward to reading your weekly edition of The East County Observer for news of my neighborhood, co-workers and community. I often travel to the businesses supporting your paper and its distribution. This will reflect on them as well as your reporters. Perhaps a fair accounting of what really happened to Justin and the Lizardi family should have been documented.

I will always defend the administration, teachers and staff of Lakewood Ranch, where my two students excel in both academics and sports. Listen to the good sometimes. Lakewood Ranch is a decent learning environment for both academics as well as social networking.

Angeline Chromiak-Sears

+ ‘Epidemic’ article a dose of reality
Dear Editor:

I have recently read a current article in Time magazine regarding the drug addiction epidemic in our country. A mother whose son became addicted to Oxycontin that was prescribed to him during cancer treatment was quoted. He is now a drug addict. She said she wished her son had cancer instead because people understood cancer, and they had a lot more support.

Drug addiction is a nightmare. I applaud The East County Observer for publishing an article with depth on a topic that is affecting many.

Because it is an article in a Lakewood Ranch newspaper, it is natural that the article would be geared to the high schools in that area. I know many people who live out east who were involved parents — baseball, music lessons, church, PTA, family outings. They too, have children who are addicted to drugs.

This is not always about parenting; just as often, this is adolescent curiosity. In this era, the same type of teenage personality that would experiment with a beer or marijuana with their friends during high school years is now experimenting with painkillers that are highly addictive.

I encourage everyone to do their own research on the effects of the new drugs that are being distributed to our youth. Whether you are directly affected by a child or relative who is addicted — or a victim of a crime committed by someone under the influence of one of these drugs — this should be of great importance to you. The more affluent the area, the greater the chance of a large supply in that area.

Thank you to The East County Observer for making citizens out east aware of a very serious problem that is at epidemic proportions. I urge everyone to support the efforts of Families Against Addictive Drug Abuse to get these drugs off the streets and out of all communities.

In my eyes, The East County Observer took a step away from the fluffy positive public relations journalism and gave us a dose of much-needed tough reality. Thanks for an enlightening article.

Roseann O’Brien

+ ‘Epidemic’ article shows Observer bias
Dear Editor:

I was very disappointed in your paper this week about the article “Epidemic” referring to Lakewood Ranch High School. I have come to expect bashing from the Bradenton Herald” against our school, but your paper has never taken sides until this week.

I am not so naïve to believe that drugs are not in our school, but for the parents to blame the school is grossly unjust. As a parent, I know you have to watch out for your child. Know who their friends are and where they are going all the times.

My son is a sophomore at Lakewood Ranch and is thriving. He’s was a scholar athlete (two sports) last year and will be again this year. He was the J.V. County Champion for Wrestling (140 pounds).

He does all this because we pay attention to whom he hangs around and are aware of his actions. He also knows the word “No” when it comes to drugs. And he isn’t afraid of peer pressure. When I told him of this article, his response was “Where is the common sense?”

To blame the school for your child’s drug problem is a cop-out. If, as a parent, they did everything to help their son, and he still had issues, then the fault is with him. He’s is now an adult responsible for his own actions.

As editor of this paper, which I now refer as a gossip rag, you should be unbiased in your reporting. Where are the statistics for the other school drug issues in your article? I know Lakewood Ranch is not the only school that unfortunately has drugs. And to be pressured by this young man’s parents to write the article so they can become blameless is irresponsible.

I know I’m not the only parent at Lakewood Ranch who has had an issue with this article. I have talked to many parents who thought the article was unfair to our school. I hope in the future you will think before you print.

Roni Sever, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Article creates misguided illusion
Dear Editor:

I am writing to voice my objection to the article published in your publication concerning the Lizardi family. It is certainly sad the Lizardi family has had to endure the effects of drug addiction, but connecting their son’s addiction to Lakewood Ranch High School is outrageous.

The banner headline “Epidemic” creates the illusion that students at this high school are wheeling and dealing drugs instead of attending class and preparing for their futures. The article relies on quotes stemming from emotion rather than facts. Reporters Michael Eng and Pam Eubanks failed to provide a single statistic concerning drug usage, drug arrests or drug suspensions occurring at Lakewood Ranch or Braden River highs schools from the time Mr. Lizardi attended until present. By not supporting the use of the word “epidemic,” The Observer has created a mischaracterization of the school, its students and its faculty.

To suggest that Lakewood Ranch is without its issues would be as unfair. However, those issues, including drugs, are faced by every other high school in this country be it private or public. Linking Mr. Lizardi’s drug addiction and criminal past to his attendance at Lakewood Ranch is irresponsible and outrageous.

Your reporters also failed to mention that Lakewood Ranch is the only A-rated high school within our county with FCAT scores that are consistently above the other county high schools. The athletic program is composed of student athletes with some of the highest GPAs in the county as well as in the state; and more graduates from LRHS attend four-year institutions than any other county high school. I don’t think this could be accomplished if drugs ran rampant through the school’s halls.

Printing such a slanted article with such an outlandish headline was grossly unfair to all the students, parents and faculty at Lakewood Ranch High School.

Patti Nolan, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Story a great service to Ranch
Dear Editor:

I can only imagine how difficult it was for The East County Observer and the Lizardi family to touch on such painful issues as those addressed in the story “Epidemic.” Those of us who have been touched by substance abuse know the courage it took for the Lizardis to share their agonizing story.

Thank you.

In fairness to The East County Observer, they were only quoting the Lizardi teen’s response that Lakewood Ranch High School was known as a place you could get drugs. Please consider that every week, The East County Observer does stories chronicling the many wonderful accomplishments of our area teens, the majority of whom (including the Lizardi’s son, Christian) work very hard to live honorable lives and make good choices.

I am sure this article was not intended to take anything away from the many admirable Lakewood Ranch students whom we are privileged to have as a part of our community. I personally know many families who have lost children to addiction or death by prescription drugs, and I have never heard a single one of them say they blamed their child’s school. We do not.

I knew when I went public with my son’s story that I, as a parent, would face harsh judgment and blame from some individuals. Nothing is worse than the blame I put on myself; I don’t know anyone who has lost a child this way who does not beat him or herself up every day. It is a painful way to live.

Ultimately I decided sharing our son’s story in the hope that it will help another young person make a better decision is more important than our pain or shame.

Your paper landed on the doorstep of families in our community suffering in silence who are in similar situations as the Lizardi family or my family. Although I doubt you will hear from them, I know some will join me in thanking The East County Observer for shining a light on this problem, an affliction that despite the stigma and prejudice, shows no prejudice to any walk of life, social status or background.

I agree this problem is not specific to our area; it is a nationwide problem. The difference is that we live in a community that cares enough to try to do something about it. We can’t fix what we do not acknowledge.

Janice Spring
Lakewood Ranch

+ Drug problem truly an ‘epidemic’
Dear Editor:

People need to wake up. I run a parent bereavement group in Manatee County. Drugs are the No. 1 cause of death in the group.

Let me say it is very sad to sit on the other side of the fence with the grieving parents whose child has died of an unintentional overdose. Most parents have absolutely no idea what is happening in East County/Lakewood Ranch area as well as throughout the state and the United States. People are shocked when they realize their child is dead, and they didn’t even know they had touched a prescription drug.

Heroin is back, folks. Methadone is out on the street (this used to be what they used for heroin addicts — remember the methadone clinics?). Now the drug is used for “pain management for cancer patients.” It has hit the streets along with snorting Oxycontin. And when combined, it is a lethal combination causing children to die immediately from respiratory failure.

Also, people are cutting up pain patches and eating them. They are so strong (fentenyl patches also used for pain management and chronic pain) that people are stealing them off cancer patients and coma patients in nursing homes where I work. They leave the patient’s completely without any pain management, or they simply replace the new one just placed on the patient with the old ones that have worn out after three days.

It’s time everyone woke up. We need to be routinely drug testing our kids so they know we are watching. Also check your medicine cabinet. Did you know your prescription “dental pain meds” are worth $18 a pill?

Linda Murillo
Healing Hearts

+ ‘Epidemic’ shows lack of integrity
Dear Editor:

This letter is pertaining to the article “Epidemic” that was in your paper Sept. 23.

In this article, I could not help but notice that the authors of this fairytale were anti-Lakewood Ranch High School. The story was shaped to take all personal responsibility away from the individual and his family and place it right on the doorstep of a third party.

Why the writers of this fiction would even consider trying to blame a school for a few individuals actions and conduct is mind-boggling to me. In the story, the writers make a quote from a family member of the Braden River dropout that says, “There are cliques, and everyone knows Lakewood Ranch was the school for drugs."

Every school and community has issues with drugs. Why was this line even placed in the article? The only answer I can see is that it was placed there to slant the story.

There was a family member that just died as a result of a drug overdose. The story could easily have been about family traits toward drug addiction. Why was Lakewood Ranch singled out in this story when clearly there were other causes for his actions?

Not once in your article did I read any comments about how Lakewood Ranch High School was an “A” School. In the latest student-scholar athlete banquet, 300-plus student-athletes were recognized for having over a 3.5 GPA. In addition, all 22 teams qualified for the FHSAA’s Academic Team, and Lakewood Ranch was ranked No. 4 in the State in the FHSAA Sunshine Cup All-Sports Award.

With so many positive actions going on at Lakewood Ranch, why is it important to give attention to one misguided person?

In conclusion, I have to ask: Where is the journalist integrity of this newspaper?

James and Tracie Adams, parents
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Lizardi quotation wasn’t inappropriate
Dear Editor:

Thank you, Observer, for this article, “Epidemic.”

It is unfortunate to see that some who read it took it as an assault on Lakewood Ranch High School. I did not find the quote from the young man to be inappropriate or out of context. It was simply his perspective, and I could only hope and pray that it is somewhat misguided.

The unfortunate truth is that we do, in fact, have a real epidemic blooming in our midst. I am a member of Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, and the statistics are alarming.

I myself have been living with the shame and guilt of having not one, but two sons addicted to prescription drugs. There is plenty of blame to go around, but until we stop blaming and start recognizing the need for real help in this community, we will see the continued downward spiral of “some” of our youth.

My sons, now ages 25 and 22, are in long-term treatment by the grace of God, and I hold on to great hope for their future health and sobriety. I pray that no parent should have to endure the horror of prescription drug addiction.

Toni Bush

+ Characterization of Lakewood unfair
Dear Editor:

I occasionally read your newspaper. 

I was offended by your characterization of Lakewood Ranch as a “drug school.” 

My son goes to this school. He is a straight-A student and knows no one who does drugs.

To try to put a whole school in one stereotype is poor journalism. I guess this is why you write for a free paper. 

Please exercise better integrity in the future.

Jim Sollazzo, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ Former Lakewood student shares story
Dear Editor:

I am 20 years old and have lost a few friends due to drugs.

One of my best friends, Derek Spring, passed away on my birthday, Sept. 13, 2008. Derek was a great guy, very outgoing and funny. He had great parents who loved him very much and a little sister who looked up to him. It was not his parents’ fault that he started drugs. He had a good life, a nice home and tons friends.

When Derek passed, everyone kind of got a wake-up call that it could even happen to them. One month later, my older sister overdosed. I found her on her bedroom floor gasping for her last breath, so I began to give her CPR, which I learned in high school at Lakewood Ranch. I was breathing for her until the paramedics arrived. She was rushed to the hospital and brought back to life. She was in the intensive care unit for a week.

When she had all the tubes in her nose and mouth, I decided to take a picture of her so when she was better, she could see that she never wants that to happen to her again. My sister is very loved and she is my best friend.

I thank God and Derek every day for being on my side to save my sister. So there is no need to blame parents for their children doing drugs. I as a “child” know we don’t listen to our parents all the time, and they can’t hold our hands forever.

We as young adults can make our on choices. Sometimes, they aren’t the best ones but that is what life is all about.

Rest In Peace Derek Gregory Spring. You are truly missed and forever in our hearts.

For anyone who has a drug problem, get help. Save yourself. Your life is not worth just one little pill.

Audrey Dinkel
Lakewood Ranch

+ ‘Epidemic’ article offensive to parent
Dear Editor:

I am very offended by the article written in this week’s Observer about drug use at Lakewood Ranch High (and the quotation, “Everyone knows Lakewood Ranch was the school for drugs”).

I am a proud parent of a freshman and junior and Lakewood Ranch High School. Neither of the two have seen or participated in any drug activity.

It’s not the school that’s the problem; it’s the friends you associate with. All high schools will experience these problems. Why did you only single out Lakewood Ranch?

I personally know kids who been have to expelled at Braden River High and now go to Sarasota Military Academy, and I have heard many stories about Cardinal Mooney (from the kids who attend).

Karin Guida, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

+ ‘Epidemic’ article on target with trend
Dear Editor:

I loved your article “Epidemic.” I think it was an honest look at the story behind Justin Lizardi — the young man recently arrested in East County.

You can’t blame his actions on drugs, but they clearly influenced his decisions.

I am honestly a little shocked to hear area parents took offense to the article. I have been hearing that Lakewood Ranch High School is known for drug use for a long time. No, everyone is not doing drugs, but there is a drug problem in our area, and I don’t think it is just at Lakewood. Parents need to talk to their kids about it.

Good job on waking them up. A nice piece of journalism. Hoping the best for Justin — he has a long road ahead of him.

Monty Hershberger, youth director
Cornerstone Church of Lakewood Ranch

+ ‘Epidemic’ a ‘cheap shot’ on Ranch students
Dear Editor:

I urge you to read “Epidemic” in your Sept. 23 edition from the perspective of parents who send their children to Lakewood Ranch High School; who have raised their children to be accountable for their actions, behavior and decisions; who let them know at a young age that they will be approached, around and exposed to drugs of all kinds from weak people, that it does not matter where you live and that they need to pick their friends carefully.

The issue I have with the article is you felt it was right to quote a student from Braden River (could have been any other school) that slandered Lakewood Ranch High as “the drug school.” It would have been more accurate to state that every school has its own drug issues to deal with, then state what the schools are doing to address the issue.

Instead, or once again, the opportunity to take cheap shots at the students of Lakewood Ranch just could not be passed up. It is also not just the cheap shots but the failure to write about some of the great things many of the students achieve.

Matthew G. Farhat
Lakewood Ranch

+ Article address life-and-death issue
Dear Editor:

Thanks so much for your honest and focused reporting.

I particularly appreciated the accurate title of your piece. As our community moves toward a more realistic public awareness, it will continue to be so important that writers like you create mile-markers to help reinforce the commitment to address this life-and-death issue for our teens and their families.

You are doing a great job. Keep it up.

Steve Rinder, coordinator
Dropout Prevention/Student Intervention
Student Assistance Program
Manatee County School Board

+ ‘Epidemic’ unfair to Lakewood students
Dear Editor:

First of all, let me say that I am very sorry for the parents who have had to go through an ordeal with drugs the way that you described. I can only imagine how difficult that must be.

That said, it is a very unfair representation that you made of Lakewood Ranch High School. I have no doubt that any school you survey, be it public or private, will have some issue with drugs. To imply, the way your article did, that Lakewood Ranch is particularly worse is a great disservice to our children who attend and are working hard and representing their school very well.

I spoke with the school resource officer to quiz him because I didn’t want to speak out of turn without something to back it up. He said he is in touch with resource officers at other high schools, and from middle school through high school, it is a societal problem.

Did you find any research to suggest that Lakewood Ranch is the place to go for drugs or simply use an inflammatory quote from a hurting family member?

I think you should do some actual investigating before you call your article an investigation.

Samantha Slade

+ ‘Epidemic’ article serves community
Dear Editor:

Thanks for the enlightening and insightful article.

Just another reason The East County Observer is a great contribution to our community.

Rita Cohen
Mill Creek

+ Lakewood Ranch not only place for drugs
Dear Editor:

Drugs are everywhere — not just Lakewood Ranch High School.

We have an epidemic of drug users, but they are everywhere — even in Mississippi. Braden River, Manatee and Palmetto high schools have drugs as well.

If a parent thinks their child won’t use drugs because he attends a school in the area other than Lakewood Ranch, you are foolishly turning a blind eye.

Amie Isemann

+ ‘Epidemic’ shows family’s courage
Dear Editor:

It is always tough to read an article about losing a young person to addiction. Our family has had generations of addicts.

It is well known that you can take any group of people, give them alcohol and drugs and some will be addicts, some will not. The same holds true for gambling and other forms of addiction. There is much to be learned about how the brain works and chemical and biological implications for addiction.

What we know right now that the first step in recovery is to admit you have a problem and to work on a personal program for recovery. We all need to be educated on understanding addictive behaviors and learning how to be healthy includes knowing and having healthy relationships with family and friends. Enabling and co-dependency are part of the equation.

Geography does not make an addict. Drugs are in our grocery stores, homes and on street corners. Predators and those who harm others are usually those we trust most, a friend or family member. I have never met an addict who aspired to be an addict; they usually end up there through a series of bad choices. Sometimes a drug addiction is the result of a severe medical trauma and someone is given pain meds and a chemical addiction occurs.

Moving to Lakewood Ranch or anywhere else does not make someone an addict just like running from someplace won’t cure your problem. It is unfortunate that this has happened, and I am glad that we have resources and trained professionals right here at Manatee Glens that can offer hope and recovery to this family and others. Blaming others for your disease doesn’t help one recover from cancer or addiction.
Thank you for printing this story and for the courage for this family to say out loud what many fear most.
You will light the path for others to follow.

Julie Aranibar, candidate
Manatee County School Board

+ ‘Epidemic’ article totally misses mark
Dear Editor:

What unbelievable and shoddy journalism on display. The reporters on this “Epidemic” story have totally missed the mark.

You want to know what the real epidemic is? Stop blaming schools and “outside sources” and start taking aim on the real problem. Parents.

Let’s hold parents accountable who don’t supervise their kids, who don’t take an interest in what they’re involved in and those that want everybody but themselves to raise their kids.

And finally, don’t use a misguided quote that “everybody knows that Lakewood Ranch is the drug school” without using in its proper context. Did you check with all of the Lakewood Ranch parents (past and present) and see how there kids were?

Get it right, please.

Scott Sears

+ Prescription drugs a true epidemic
Dear Editor:

First of all, I wish to thank you for your article on the epidemic of prescription drug use in our county.
But it is not just Lakewood Ranch; it is all over our county (and state).

The statistics of drug overdoses are staggering just in our county alone but because of the privacy issue are not front-page news. What family wants their child’s death from drug overdose to be on the front page?
In spite of a family’s dedication to raising their children in a solid family environment, including family time and trips together, sports activities, games, etc. even the best of families can lose their child to peer pressure. Once they become “of age” and start driving, we can no longer monitor what our children are doing; just hope and pray they make the right choices.

Drugs are everywhere in Sarasota County, whether it be Lakewood Ranch, Riverview, Sarasota High School or even Siesta Key. Whatever they want, they can get, and sometimes all they have to do is raid the family’s medicine cabinet.

Kids can have the best childhood or the worst. It doesn’t matter. We can try to instill in them to make the right choices, but once they leave home, we have no control.

To blame the parents is wrong. Most of us have tried to do “all the right things.”

And many of us are grieving inside. It is easy for others to lay blame when they are not directly involved. Until the pill factories are closed and the rampant drug use is at least slowed down, our kids of today do not have a chance. Remember: they are the adults of tomorrow.

Pat and Steve Hepfer

+ Article unfairly condemns school
Dear Editor:
Your article “Epidemic,” based on a letter from a parent of a robber holds no clout. You should check facts before you print false garbage.

There may be drugs in a lot of schools in Manatee, but that does not mean that all the students attending the school take them. You should not single out and condemn a whole school body for something that does not involve them.

I will not consider your paper any more than a gossip column.

T. Branch, parent
Lakewood Ranch High School

This article was not based on a letter from a parent. — Ed.

+ Parents’ ignorance could cause more problems
Dear Editor:

As long as the facts are accurate, you should print them — notwithstanding that over-protective parents complain that they don’t like a certain characterization.

Parents who put their head in the sand and wish problems away are often the source of the problem and have created greater more lasting transgressions than the offense giving rise to the issue at hand.

Mark Hanewich
Manatee County

+ Teenage peer pressure outweighs parent influence
Dear Editor:

It is a proven fact that peer pressure far outweighs parental influences.

Lakewood Ranch was promoted as a planned community — a paradise of luxury and comfort — every possible material pleasure available.

The image was simply a fabrication of imagination. It only stands to reason when you surround yourselves and your children in an artificial envelope, you are bound to find out the reality of life.

David McGowan




Related Articles

  • September 8, 2010
Letters to the Editor