This is just about the point in the debate about drug and alcohol use among teens where the grownups start to drift away. They've had their consciousness raised. They've vented their outrage. And dang, it sure is cold out.
Yes, Oak Park and River Forest have been here before. Multiple times. We do have a rampant problem with teens using drugs and alcohol. But like a lot of places, once the hands have been wrung, it comes time to make hard choices, genuinely controversial choices, and it is easier to call the process a success and retreat to the safety of home.
This time, though, feels different. It started last spring with intense emotion as hundreds of parents gathered at Oak Park and River Forest High School to listen to clear-headed pros tell us this problem is absolutely real. The discussions continued through the summer with solid turnouts among parents and officials.
Now it is winter and the meetings not only continue to draw significant numbers, but the discussion has turned to solutions, to active interventions. Closing the campus at the high school is now clearly on our community's agenda. And last week, at a well-attended meeting in River Forest, a large majority of parents expressed support for bringing drug-sniffing dogs onto the campus and for crafting a policy allowing some measure of compulsory drug-testing for teens.
This is the real deal, the real conversation that these villages need to have. This newspaper has, in deference to that necessary conversation, stepped up to but not over the line in backing a closed campus. We will take the same posture on dogs and testing. We are open to these ideas. With precautions built in thoughtfully, particularly in regard to testing, we can be persuaded.
What would not be acceptable to us are critics who will rightly surface now and protest such initiatives as civil rights violations but who do not offer solutions of their own to the drug and drinking problem.
We have a problem. We have a responsibility to solve it. That's what the grownups do.
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