The War on Drugs: officially, fought to keep your kid safe, your neighbourhood friendly and your street clean. But the failing efficacy of this war introduced the campaigners of ‘Anyone’s Child’ to a whole new different fight.
In 1971 President Nixon declared drug abuse the public enemy number one. This was the answer to a previous released, explosive report on the growing heroin epidemic among U.S. servicemen in Vietnam; ten to fifteen percent of soldiers were addicted.
In the 80ies the Reagan administration launched the ‘Just say no’ campaign. First Lady Nancy Reagan being the voice of stern responsibility. Telling teenagers what to do without any explanation of why to do so. Also, the campaign shows how much fun it is to be responsible. It is everything that adolescents stand for… Clearly.
All tough anti-drug campaigns have (luckily) diversified over the years, the message only ever came from one perspective: that drugs must be illegal to stop people from using them.
And this is where the ‘wacky’ ideas of people like the members of ‘Anyone’s Child’ come in. What if, instead of patronising and punishing people, governments educate them, set up a legal frame and let them think for themselves? If people still decide to use drugs, which some of them will, then they must not buy them from the street without knowing what they are cut with. They must not go to prison if the drug harms them, but to a doctor. Lives will not be ruined or lost to the drug war and thanks to the creation of safe spaces, predictably also not to drugs.
Now I know, reality is, that drugs are incredible dangerous. So, who are these people, asking to expose our children to drug policies that make them more approachable?
Anyone’s child is a unison of families who have lost family members to the drug war. Be it an accidental overdose, a fatal consequence of the raging organised crime (between 2007 and 2014 more than 164,000 people were victims of homicide in Mexico alone. A direct consequence of the war on drugs) or a prison sentence in the double digits – these families have learned of the failure of the war on drugs the hardest way.
To make people understand, they tell their stories:
A mother that has lost her child to drugs calls for drug legalization is a staggering story, one that will make people stop. Listen. Think twice. (Stekelenburg and Klandermans, 2010).
Politicians have made drugs handling a highly topical issue. The clear, one sided frame did not allow space for criticism or alternative approaches. But after all this time (the first prohibition act was introduced as early as 1914 in the US) and millions of lives lost it is time to look at it through a different frame (Polletta, 1998).
van Stekelenburg, J. and Klandermans, B. (2010). The Social Psychology of Protest. Sociopedia.ica. Available at: http://bit.ly/1sbTy3V [Accessed 03 November 2016].
Polletta, F. (1998). Contending Stories: Narrative in Social Movements. Qualitative Sociology, 21(4), 419–446.