Everyone keeps asking me about my comments on the shootings in Surrey, B.C. that have led to one man's death. I comment because I have been there. In 2005, my family was living in Chilliwack and my kids were happy and healthy and thriving. My daughter was enjoying her middle school and getting good grades.
In 2005, because of work, we needed to move closer into the Lower Mainland. The one to two-hour commute was not something my husband could continue. We chose to move to Surrey because of the transit options the SkyTrain offered.
My kids enrolled in school and all seemed well for the first couple of months. We began to see a change in our daughter and thought the change was simply her not adjusting to the move. What we weren't aware of, is that she was making friends, just not the right ones.
For a full year, my daughter never mentioned these new friends and she never brought any of them to our home. She didn't seem to be hanging out with them after school. What we didn't know was our daughter enjoyed her first joint at school at lunch, and also made her first transaction for pot at school at lunch.
As parents, by the time we figured out what was happening, my daughter was heavily involved with people in the drug trade.
It starts out slowly. For a variety of reasons, kids are offered their first joint. For some kids, it is trouble at home, for others it's to calm down before a major test. Someone will offer it to them though. They tell kids that pot is just a herb, it cures everything from epilepsy to cancer, you can't OD on pot etc.
Then comes the day that your kid doesn't have the money to buy the pot they feel they need. Someone will tell them that is OK, here is some pot to sell to your friends, and that is how it begins.
Many might be surprised by how young these kids are. My daughter was in Grade 9.
When kids become involved they suddenly have money in their pocket, it might not be much by adult standards, but to a kid an extra $30-$40 a week is a lot. They soon learn that the more customers they have, the more money they can make. They also realize if they offer more than pot, the money also increases, then they begin into all the party drugs.
What kids don't understand is that the money from each joint goes somewhere. The person they get their pot from will likely have ties to gangs. The money for the harmless herb is most likely going to someone who is going to buy a gun with it.
This is big business for many. It is estimated in B.C. alone, pot is a $443 million a year business. It comes with an executive, supply lines, and customers. Our kids are the customers.
When there is a hostile takeover, the corporate world uses pen and paper; drug gangs use guns and bullets. Language like "turf war" takes away the real motivation for gangs; turf is just a code word for customers. We need to start taking away the customers.
The only time my daughter was caught at school was for smoking weed on school grounds. She was never caught for anything else and graduated from a Surrey school. That is why I believe we need more parental involvement in our schools.
One of the things I hear most is that "the kids don't want parents in the school." Well, first it is my job as a parent not to be my kid's best friend. It is to raise a happy, healthy, contributing member of society, which makes it my right to be nosy.
Second, and the most valuable lesson our daughter taught us, those who want the most privacy are the ones with the most to hide. So we have Take Your Kid to Work Day, why not Take your Parent to School Day.
We live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Until we have jobs for our kids that will allow them to have a place to live and food in the fridge, they will turn to something that will -- and right now that is gangs and drugs.
I do have good news. My daughter is now in her 20s and a happy, healthy, contributing member of society. Her road to get there was rocky.
Her journey back started the day she attended the funeral of one of her "friends." In other words, it took someone dying for her to change.
If I could leave parents with any advice, it would be this: if you know anything about your kids and people in the drug trade, call the RCMP. Sometimes kids get in over their heads and don't know how to get out. We aren't experts in getting them out either. Leave it to the people who know.
Be nosy. If your kids are wanting way to much privacy, it is likely they are doing something they know you wouldn't approve of. Privacy isn't a right, it is earned.
Know who your kids' friends are inside and outside of school. Often this is where things start, so push to know what is going on
Talk to your kids about pot. Remember the kids who are selling are selling for a profit to buy things like guns.
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