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September 21, 2014

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Parents get crash course on drug trends in Clark County schools

At first glance, there was nothing remarkable about the items — a can of Pringles potato chips, a bottle of Visine eye drops, and a Tootsie roll.

But as Clark County School District Police Officer Steve Ufford grabbed each one, a group of curious parents quickly realized they were drug paraphernalia in hiding — a cunning way for teenagers to conceal illicit substances. The candy wrapper held a tube of pills instead of fudge, the bottle was emptied to store a liquid “date rape” drug, and the can of chips had a compartment at the bottom used to carry bulkier items such as marijuana.

“I’ve never even heard of some of this stuff,” said Linda Johnson, whose teenage daughter attends Bonanza High School. “As a parent, I have to stay informed.”

Johnson was one of about a dozen parents who gathered Wednesday evening at Western High School for an information session organized by CCSD officials aimed at exposing drug trends in county schools.

Ufford, who led the session, said that while marijuana and alcohol remain among the most popular substances among high school students, authorities are also on the lookout for prescription drugs and recently banned synthetic substances, such as "spice" and "bath salts."

“(Drug use) is not as big as it used to be,” said CCSD officer Thomas Rainey. “But it’s still a problem.”

Ufford urged parents to watch for behavior changes in their children and to ask questions if they appear to be acting strangely.

“Talk to your children,” he told the audience.

Parents should take heed if their children’s grades drop suddenly or if they befriend a new group of friends. And curious parents should scan bedrooms and belongings to make sure their kids aren’t hiding anything illegal, Ufford said.

“Don’t let them tell you that you need a warrant,” Ufford continued. “You have every right to go through their stuff.”

A parent’s curiosity helped Maria Cisneros learn last week that her daughter, a 14-year-old student at Cimarron-Memorial High School, used marijuana at a friend’s house. Cisneros said her daughter’s friend’s mother found the girl’s diary, which said the pair had been smoking weed together.

“She doesn’t want to say much,” Cisneros said of her daughter, noting that she has since been banned from spending time with her friend. “I don’t want her to use (marijuana) anymore.”

The school district is holding the same information session at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lowman Elementary School, 4225 N. Lamont St., near Craig Road and Nellis Boulevard. All CCSD parents are invited to attend.

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