Video: Testy parents

msnbc.com
updated 11/14/2005 2:39:32 PM ET 2005-11-14T19:39:32

In an effort to prevent drug abuse, school officials in northwest Texas are handing out free at-home drug testing kits to parents

Project 7th Grade targets middle schoolers because that's now the average age when kids begin experimenting with illegal drugs. 

Debbie Moak is the president of Not My Kid, Incorporated, a company committed to protecting the health of children.  She joined MSNBC-TV's Tucker Carlson to explain the benefits of using this method.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

TUCKER CARLSON, SITUATION HOST: I don‘t question your motives, of course, which I‘m sure are good.  I just question the effectiveness of this tactic.  It seems to me one of the reasons kids use drugs is because they‘re alienated from their parents.  Confronting a child with a drug testing kit seems a perfect way to alienate them even more. 

DEBBIE MOAK, PRESIDENT, NOT MY KID, INCORPORATED: Not at all, Tucker.  Actually I speak to both parents and kids, thousands of them every year, and kids tell me that they don‘t want to use drugs, by and large, and they‘re happy that their parents are setting boundaries and verifying that they have a way out from being pressured into the use of drugs. 

CARLSON: So in other words, kids can tell their peers, 'I can‘t get high because my parents are going to test me'?

MOAK: Absolutely, and I‘ve had kids come back to me and say, 'My parent heard this program, and she‘s not following through.  Would you talk to my mom?'

CARLSON: Test me before I use again. 

MOAK: No, kids are actually saying, 'Set a boundary, be my parent, and give me a way out of this situation, because I‘m being pressured on a daily basis.' 

CARLSON: Right. 

MOAK: '... to use drugs.  And I need an acceptable way to tell my peers I can‘t participate.'  In other words, 'my mom tests me, and when she finds out, I‘m busted, and she is calling your mom, too.' 

CARLSON: That‘s interesting.  I hadn‘t thought of that.  That‘s, I think, a smart point and a fair point.  But those are, again, the kids who are telling you about it, which is a self-selected group, it seems to me. 

A lot of kids, I know in my own case when I was 15, if my parents had said, 'We‘re going to give you a drug test,' I would have been deeply, deeply resentful.  I would have hated it.  I think a lot of parents would hate their kids for doing something like that, because kids are all caught up in this do you trust me, you‘re not treating me as an adult.  You‘re treating me like a child.  You know how kids are. 

MOAK: But Tucker, the first thing I would say is then your parents waited until you were too old. 

CARLSON: Right. 

MOAK: It was too late to start.  That‘s why Project 7th Grade is a middle school program, because this is a prevention program.  drug use triples between 6th and 8th grade.  So we want to work with parents and kids, and we‘ve given them a tool, quite frankly, a tool that didn‘t exist just a few years ago.  A way for parents to build trust, to deter drug use.  And we know that it‘s effect — yes. 

CARLSON: You know that it‘s effective.  You have proof that it‘s effective.  I haven‘t seen it, but I‘m willing to believe you do, or say you do, anyway.  That‘s a different question.

But is it — but the idea that t sparks trust or creates trust between parent and child is kind of hard to swallow.  I mean, why wouldn‘t you just talk to your kids about it?  Testing is something that law enforcement does and the cops do?

MOAK: Right.  Well, first of all, talking to your kids about drug use is very important.  That needs to be done on a regular basis.  Statistically, you‘ll find that that prevents drug use by 50 percent.

But Tucker, I would ask you, since when is prevention at the level of 50 percent acceptable?  You know, parents need to talk to their kids, and we need an action that goes along with talking. 

CARLSON: Right.  Yes, absolutely, but, I mean, look, the truth is that a lot of kids experiment with low-level drugs like marijuana, and it doesn‘t hurt them in the end.  There is a minority of kids whose lives are destroyed by it.  I am in no way minimizing the horror of that.  But I am saying, that‘s not typical, and you know it‘s not. 

And so is it worth destroying the relationship between parent and child to prevent a kid from smoking pot once in awhile, I mean, honestly?

MOAK: First of all, I don‘t think there is anything more important than a parent preventing drug use with their teen.  That is what good parents do. 

You know, parents ask their kids — on the trust issue — we ask our kids what their grades are going to be on the report card.  Tucker, do we still look at the report card when that card comes home? 

CARLSON: The child doesn‘t know what his grades are going to be.

MOAK: Then why don‘t we just trust them and say, 'Just tell me what your grades are going to be, and that‘s good enough'?  No, because we know that good parents set boundaries, and then they follow up. 

Then why don‘t we tell our kids, 'Hey, your curfew is midnight' and then we don‘t get up to check to see if they‘re home?

Again, we set boundaries with our kids, and we start this process from the time they‘re toddlers.  We‘ve been building trust by setting boundaries and verifying that our kids are adhering to those good parenting boundaries. 

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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