Students promise to stay drug free

October 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The name Enrique Camarena may not be familiar to some of you, but he was a U.S. drug enforcement agent who was murdered by Mexican drug traffickers in 1985. His legacy lives on in San Francisco and around the nation as millions of kids observe Red Ribbon Week -- a program to encourage them to live drug-free lives.

There are millions of Americans who vow to stay drug-free.

Famous performers in a music video, tried to deliver a message encouraging kids to find a passion and stay clear of drugs. About 900 San Francisco public school students pledged to do so on Monday.

"Is it 100 percent effective? Probably not but like I said if we save one life more, then that's one more on the good-guys' side so it's worth doing," said Carlos Garcia, the Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District.

Red Ribbon Week is in honor of DEA special agent Enrique Camarena who was killed by Mexican drug traffickers. In the past, 6th graders were the focus of this anti-drug message, but this year 4th and 5th graders are as well.

"But we found that if we start earlier, the more opportunity we have to change behavior. The same thing with truancy," said Louise Perillo, from the San Francisco Police Department.

Some students learned what it feels like to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs --by wearing special goggles designed to impair their judgment.

"You don't have to do drugs when you grow up you just have to say no," said Nguyen Pham, a 5th grader.

Some studies have shown the 'Just Say No' campaign of the 80's had little effect on young kids, but one DEA agent disagrees, saying it helped initiate the anti-drug discussion in the schools.

"Right now you go to the high schools or the junior high schools, abuse of illegal drugs is down," said Gabriella Zacco, from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The latest government report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found drug consumption for 12-17 year olds fell from 11.6 percent in 2002 to 9.9 percent in 2005.

"After what I've just heard, I know it's really bad for me and I'll just say no and walk away," said Maire McCarthy, a 5th grader.

That's what supporters of Red Ribbon Week want to hear.


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