Drug and Violence Awareness Expo continued the conversation [Editorial]

As parents and educators already know, you can't start too soon to talk with your kids about the evils of drugs, alcohol and violence.

Too often, though, the conversation is muted because the topic can be a difficult one to discuss. As much as we might want, we can't wish these issues away.


So, even if it accomplished nothing more, Carroll County's first Drug and Violence Awareness Expo was a great addition to the ongoing battle that the community faces every day. The event, a combined effort of Carroll law enforcement, public health officials and the county Chamber of Commerce, drew about 500 people — about half of them students — to the county Agricultural Center on Friday.

The event brought the issues to the forefront as police, nonprofits and county agencies dealt openly with topics including drunken driving, sexual assault and substance abuse.

Students heard staggering details, such as that 29 people in Carroll died from drug overdoses, including 12 from heroin, in 2014. More importantly, they saw the results of making these poor kinds of decisions, whether it be through using a drunken-driving simulator or hearing directly from those who have been affected by drugs or violence. Some 50 presenters were there to lend their knowledge and expertise.

It was also satisfying, given recent events in Baltimore, to witness students and law enforcement officers interact in a friendly and positive way.

It might be too soon to quantify the success of the expo other than by seeing the interest on the faces of some of the students. But we see it as a building block, a way to keep us all talking about these issues.

Next year, we hope more students get the opportunity to attend.

The hope is that when they left the expo, students talked to their friends and family about what they experienced.

That's the key in fighting these issues — continuing that conversation.