By Mary O’KEEFE
The CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition will present a seminar titled “Sex, Drugs and Social Networking” on Tuesday at the Verdugo Hills Hospital Community Room at 6:30 p.m. The special guest speaker will be Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
“The youth have mastered networking tools and most parents are unaware of what [this means],” said David Marquez, executive director of the Coalition.
He added that even if parents have the passwords for their kid’s Internet accounts kids seem to always be one step ahead.
“Through this [type of networking] they can learn about parties, drugs and emerging new drugs,” Marquez said.
The night will cover many new trends in drugs and sex via the Internet and texting.
“Even with tools provided by the phone carrier to help monitor your kid’s phone activity, when it comes to texting we are still blind,” Marquez said.
Lorenz said he recently read about a nearby city where officials were surprised at a sudden increase in heroin use in their community. There had been four overdose deaths and they were seeing 13, 14 and 15 year olds addicted to heroin. He said it shouldn’t be a surprise if officials have their eyes wide open as to what the trends are in their community.
“See what the trends are with kids – what they are doing and their knowledge on sex and relationships in addition to drugs,” he said.
Kids are being educated in these subjects so much faster than other generations because of the social media.
“They are not going to their parents on social matters of sex and drugs, they are talking about it on the web,” he said. “We have left Generation X and are now calling them Generation Z. These kids are empowered by social media.”
He added that “sexting,” the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos via cellphones, is something teens have learned through social networking. In addition to their own generation sexting, they see examples like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) who has been in the news due to sexting many women. Kids see this and, where it may shock and anger their parents, it is commonplace among their generation.
“The worst part about [sexting] is [the kids] don’t realize the consequences if they are caught by a parent. If they were to text a body part of a [juvenile] to a friend and it spread through school [and] it got reported by a parent, [law enforcement] would investigate. It is a felony to send a picture of a minor (even if the minor is the sender). Under that statute you would have to register as a sex [offender] for the rest of your life,” Lorenz said.
In addition to sex, the new drugs are easy to find by social networking. The names of drugs are constantly changing and those that market the drugs are using social networks to advertise their product. Many of the new synthetic drugs are not detected with drug testing kits and all of this information is available just by logging on.
The discussion will cover these topics and will let community members know what programs are in the area to help kids and adults.
“It is old fashioned parenting meets modern technology,” Marquez said.