Essay: Criminal Justice Scare Tactics and Drug Abuse

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Criminal Justice

Scare tactics and drug abuse

Over the last few decades, there has been use of scare tactics on the drug users in order for organizations to try and keep the younger generations from engaging in the drug use habit. There was use of all kinds of media to communicate this and even movies like Reefer Madness that was released in 1930s and re-released in 1970s depicted several exaggerated and tragic scenes that befell high school students who used marijuana (Sara B., 2012). In the 1980s and 1990s with the clarion call of Just Say No being the top call on drugs, there were other scare tactics that were predominantly used like the frying of an egg to simulate the brain being charred by the drugs that the youth use. These were intended to scare away the young children and youth from engaging in the use of drugs. Even to date, there are still graphic images that are used by the PSAs in their adverts targeted at reduction of the drug use habit among the youth and graphic depiction of the consequences of drug abuse.

The scare tactics attempt .to use the fear aspect of the human psychology to motivate change. Most scare tactics are not formatted to cause harm or damage to any person but simply to play about with the sense of security of the individual, a feature that is innate in each person. They are meant to inflict the maximum possible psychological pressure on the recipient in order to shape behavior and response. The scare tactics therefore create fear through tabling a behavior, say drug abuse, and the severe physical and emotional injuries that it has, then it is followed by specific recommendations of what to do to escape such injury, which in this case is to keep off the drugs.

After several studies on the effectiveness of the use of these scare tactics, there were mixed findings noted among the target groups. There were mixed conclusion on whether the scare tactics worked or not and this widely depended on the perception of the individual teen and how much they care for their safety. Some youth would show commitment or re-commitment to their safety yet others would just ignore the entire message.

The scare tactic cannot be wished away and be declared inapplicable. When it comes to mass motivation, at times the straight facts are not good enough to change the mentality. There is need to use the frightening statistics as well as the alarming facts about drug use. This is the entire purpose of the scare tactics that use manipulative words and actions that create sense of fear. The danger with this is that some people may make irrational decisions due to outright fear.

One of the most known scare tactic used in drug abuse restrain is the crack baby campaign. This is usually aimed at encouraging the mother to keep off drugs while pregnant as the intake of drugs can have possible serious repercussions on the baby including the compromise the intelligence level of the child when he grows up or even predisposing him to criminal tendencies (Maia S., 2013).

However, there have been extensive research carried out on thousands of children brought forth by the drug addict mothers who continued using drugs during pregnancy and there was no tangible evidence to link drug abuse to the feared consequences on the newborns. Maia further .indicates that the only significant issue that was found was that Cocaine, like cigarette smoking predisposed the mothers to still births, early births, miscarriages and low birth weight. This was the significant thing and not the effects overblown after birth. Indeed the danger with this scare tactic is that it compromised the way the crack babies are treated within the community. Child considered to be a crack babies have had their behaviors and responses misinterpreted to be pathological yet it is as normal as any other child hence denying them the social interactivity and help like any other child would get.

Zero tolerance

The notion of zero tolerance is a policy that is 'user focused' with the aim of controlling the use of drugs. The law-enforces at all levels target the users of the illicit drugs as opposed to the suppliers and transporters using this policy. The logic behind this approach is that the consumers do create the market for drugs and the consequent demand hence the root cause of the entire drug related problems. Therefore, if there can be harsh penalties leveled against the users, then the demand will be curbed and the consequent slowing of drug flow into the country (National Association of School Psychologists, 2001).

This policy was initiated by the U.S. Customs Services in association with the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego as a measure aimed at curbing drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border. This meant that those found in possession of the drugs would face misdemeanor and felony at the same time. The customs, convinced that the policy would curb drug trafficking across the Mexico border, recommended the application of the same across the nation. The National Drug Board, working together with the White House Conference in promoting a drug free America ensured that the zero tolerance policy was enforced by all the drug-enforcement agencies in 1988 (Denis C., 1999).

This policy has grown to be the standard part of the schools within the U.S.A. public schools. This is a policy that has a great support base from the public since it gives the notion of get tough on drugs as well as setting high standards to the drug control. However, this policy has not gone without criticisms, some of which are sound and affects the daily lives of students within the U.S.A. public schools mostly.

Many have equated this policy to the mandatory minimum sentencing in criminal justice system. In both, there is no reprieve for the people involved in light of the circumstances prevailing. This means, the students will undergo punishments that are harsh and excessive like being suspended from school for carrying aspirin into the school premises without prior permission.

The policy is also considered misplaced as it has seen the federal agencies spend huge amounts of money in identifying the few individual users instead of redirecting the massive resources to curbing the influx of the drugs from outside the country that ultimately end up in the streets and not schools.

Boats have been seized on suspicion of ferrying drugs after small traces have been discovered. Most of the time this is seen as too harsh since it could be the commercial boat and the sole source of money that the person or even the entire family could be having. Stopping such a commercial boat from operation for a stick of marijuana extracted from it could be unfair and too harsh bearing that the owner of the boat may not be responsible for the drug after all.

There have also not bee any statistical proof that harsh punishments for drug use has led to the significant reduction in the use of drugs as indicated by Drug Policy Alliance, (2013). This policy has failed still to eliminate the drug use among students hence needs alternatives or complementary program.

There has also been racial disproportionality as the black students are generally seen to receive hasher punishments in the event that they are found with drugs.

The application of the policy is also seen as inconsistent since the punishment is applied without being reserved for serious misdemeanors or behavior problems, but it is slapped on the students indiscriminately even to a very insignificant levels of rule infraction.

There has been an increase in the rate of suspension as well as the length of these suspensions, going for as long as three years, or some end up on permanent expulsion. The other challenge on the same point is that there has been severally repeated suspension, an indication that the policy is not working yet it is still applied and upheld. These suspensions have also increased the number of school dropouts hence creating a counter-effect of the policy.

Generally there are no reasons to positively assert that the zero tolerance policy has been effective in controlling the drug use problem especially in schools bearing the negatives that come with it and the fact that the students at the end of the day will be alone out there.

Legalization of drugs and the consequences

Over the years, there have been calls from all sections of the society for the legalization of some drugs and decriminalization of the same. The supporting arguments floated around are the medicinal value that some have like marijuana, as well as the right to choose what they want with their life without undue interference. There have been some who have also fronted the economic question of lessening the burden that the tax payers have to shoulder in treating and rehabilitating the drug users.

However, the basic truth is that with the legalization of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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