School Bans 'Rave' Beads as Drug Gear

ByABC News

March 29, 2001 -- While policy leaders in Washington puzzle over how to proceed with the war on drugs, a school in suburban Salt Lake City is trying to wipe out the "drug look."

Skyline High School in Holladay, Utah, has expanded its dress code to ban the beads, baby pacifiers, glow sticks and dust masks that are associated with the all-night dance parties known as raves, and with the drug ecstasy.

"We have been informed by the Salt Lake sheriff's office that this paraphernalia is associated with drug use," Skyline principal Kathy Clark said. "We don't let kids have bongs or make bongs in school. We don't let kids wear marijuana T-shirts or beer T-shirts.

"If you have a high school student wearing a 'binky' [baby pacifier] around their neck it's kind of like saying 'I use ecstasy,'" she added.

People who take ecstasy use pacifiers as a way to keep themselves from grinding their teeth, which is one of the side effects of the drug.

The change in the policy has not caused much controversy at the school, she said. Only "five or six times" have students come to school wearing any of the banned items in the two months since the change, and each time the student agreed to take it off.

However, some students who don't like the rule have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union asking for help getting rid of it. A lawyer with the ACLU said the ban is unfair.

"Those are part of mainstream fashion by now and it's fundamentally unfair to assume that any student who is wearing raver beads is associated with the drug culture," Stephen Clark said.

Dangerous, Popular Drug

The school has tried to make students aware of the dangers of using ecstasy, showing videotaped television news magazine programs and films put together by the sheriff's office, Clark said.

The use of ecstasy in the United States is growing more quickly than any other abused drug, and it is especially popular among young people. A survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that about 3.4 million Americans aged 12 or older had tried the drug at least once.

As use of the drug has grown, so have government efforts to keep it under control.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which said ecstasy has the potential to cause brain damage even in small doses, last week voted to recommend that federal judges hand out stiffer penalties for the drug.

Federal prosecutors have also begun using the "crack house" law to bring charges against the organizers of raves, even if there is no direct evidence linking them to possession or distribution of the drug.

"In my time as a prosecutor this is one of the most unconscionable drug violations I have seen," said U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan, announcing the prosecution of rave organizers in New Orleans last month. "They used these raves to exploit young people by designing them for pervasive drug abuse."

The "crack house" law makes it a crime to make a building available for drug use.

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