Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Alcohol incident broadens

April 21, 2005

Three students were disciplined last Wednesday at Baldwin High School for consuming alcohol on school premises. A resulting investigation, however, revealed even more. One of the students had written about suicidal thoughts in a journal.

When the drinking episode was discovered by BHS administrators, they contacted the Baldwin City Police which supplies a school resource officer for the school district. An investigation was launched including school administrators and the SRO.

"It's still continuing to unfold," Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna said of the investigation. "We don't have much more except the girls reportedly brought alcohol to school in bottles other than alcohol bottles and consumed the alcohol. That was handled administratively, as far as suspension or other discipline. I don't know.

"In the course of this investigation it has been learned that there were suicidal thoughts by one of the girls," said McKenna. "It wasn't the result of the alcohol incident, but other personal matters. We'll continue to try and get help for these young ladies."

Aside from the alcohol issue, McKenna said the more important message from the incident is that parents need to be listening and be aware of what's going on in the lives of their children.

"Adults sometimes forget the pressures and problems that young people are going through today," he said. "Sometimes they don't see another way out. That's why it's important to talk to your kids and keep abreast about what they're problems are.

"There were writings in a journal that she was contemplating suicide," said McKenna on the investigation's findings. "I'm going to stress that there is help for a child or anyone if they think their problems are insurmountable."

BHS Principal Allen Poplin declined to comment on the specifics of the incident.

"These children and their families are receiving appropriate services," said Poplin. "The proper authorities were notified as required by policy. We were dealing with minors and confidentiality issues should be respected. There is a potential for more harm than good when information appears in the media that could identify a child."

But most all involved agreed that parents need to be aware that this indeed can happen in Baldwin.

"We want to try and do everything possible we can to provide for people properly," said McKenna. "We certainly don't want it to happen here. I think through education and discussion we can make sure it doesn't.

"Suicide is a very prevalent thing among young people," he said. "But the important thing is to get some counseling."

McKenna said it's doubtful any criminal charges will result because of the minors being in possession of alcohol. The alcohol was consumed, so there's no physical proof, he said.

"I'll talk to the district attorney about if we have a case because we can't prove it other than the admission that they had alcohol," he said. "That's my dilemma."

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