Sobering Talk Speaker Pulls No Punches To Keep Teenagers Away From Alcohol And Drugs

Some native Alaskans kill wolves by coating a knife in layers of frozen blood and leaving it out in the snow for their prey to find.

The wolf is drawn to it, then tries to eat the knife. Not knowing that some of the blood is its own, it keeps chomping on the knife until it bleeds to death.

Kellogg High School students were told Monday that some of them have been duped like the wolf. Alcohol is the knife that society disguises with attractive images, said Tom Tufts, a former golf pro turned motivational speaker.

“Tragically, some of you are chomping on the blade. You are bleeding to death and you don’t even know it,” Tufts said to the bleachers full of students.

Tufts’ visit to Kellogg was timed for the first day of Red Ribbon Week, an annual event designed to raise awareness of drug and alcohol issues.

This week, students all over North Idaho and the nation will decorate their clothes with red ribbons and their schools with anti-drug messages.

Some will pledge to stay drug-free by signing banners, or, in the case of Hayden Lake Elementary School, students will sign pledges on sandwich boards carried by their friends.

At Post Falls High School and a few other schools, a percentage of students will demonstrate the grim statistics of drug and alcohol deaths by dressing in black and painting their faces white like skulls.

Businesses are also getting involved by decorating offices in red, supporting Idaho Drug Free Youth’s activities, and distributing ribbons.

Red Ribbon Week started after a federal drug agent, Enrique Camerena, was assassinated by drug dealers in 1985 in Mexico. The red ribbon symbolizes a community’s intolerance of drug abuse and the illegal use of legal substances.

At Kellogg High on Monday, Tufts drove home the dangers of the illegal and legal use of alcohol. He visits 300 to 400 schools each year to give his talk, which mixes comedy with dire statistics.

His imitations of high school behavior drew laughter at first, but as he grew more serious, the students became quiet and fidgety.

His favorite target was Anheuser-Busch Companies, the world’s largest brewer.

“Anheuser-Busch has killed more teenagers than anybody,” Tufts said, repeating a charge that has brought threats of lawsuits from the beer company in the past.

“They’re afraid of the truth,” he continued. “They want you to see the gorgeous babes and the awesome hunks who play volleyball on the beach. They’re not going to tell you about the person who drowns in their own vomit.”

Senior Josh Hansen said the speech was powerful and would have an effect - temporarily.

“After a while, people will forget about it,” he said.

Another senior, Katie Korff, agreed.

“A lot of my friends know it’s bad for them, but they want to fit in,” she said. The speech was good, she said, but “a lot of people it needs to impact have skipped the assembly.”

Tufts visited other Kellogg schools Monday. In the evening, he talked to parents and students about how to understand each other and communicate better.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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