SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The Time Is NOW To Act
By Kristenia Johnson


September 16, 2009

After my letter was published on Sitnews I received a number of responses from my friends and family congratulating me on saying what they have been thinking for years. I also received a reply from a man I did not know who shared his struggles with staying positive while growing up in Ketchikan and having to combat depression almost year round during the rain. He suffers from SAD. I also knew to expect those replies who did not whole or at all agree with my opinion, one opinion more personal to me was from my boyfriend. While he agreed with some of what I said he still had his disagreements and it hurt me to hear a semi-lack of support from him. I soon realized that this was my big test to understand that not everyone shares the same opinion. However, this is not about me or whether you believe my opinion is one sided or not. Aren't all opinions usually geered toward one side? This is about protecting and saving our children and our town from drugs, alcohol and disruptive behavior which will most likely lead to a life in and out and in jail again.
I would first like to apologize to Miss Mykayla Martin if my letter came off rude or negative to her in anyway. It was not intended to be directed toward or at her but as an overall letter to the community of Ketchikan as a whole. After my strong feelings calmed and I reread my letter I realized I would have taken offense to my own tone.
I was very glad to see an increase in letters similar to this topic, sharing personal experiences and acknowledging there is a problem. This first step in sharing will lead to the next step of gathering as a community to action. Young children and teens saying durogotory comments, consuming alcohol and drugs does not just happen in Ketchikan and the surrounding communities and cities it happens everywhere. My concern is the total number of children, teens and adults in Ketchikan who are abusing drugs and alcohol, who are contributing to a negative and unsafe environment for the rest of the community, is growing and per capita number is overwhelming.
The question was raised by Rebecca Clark in her response to Mr. Ziegler, "Do you suggest we drug test all recipients of food stamps, WIC, Denali kids, and Medicaid?" My response is YES, ABSOLUTELY!
In addition to their friends where do children and teens pick up habits? From their parents. The statistics are there, those raised in a home with where drugs and alcohol are abused are more likely to take up these habits in their own lives.  If adults testing positive to meth, cocaine or are under the influence of alcohol when they receive their food stamps or WIC, should not be receiving government handouts until they clean up. And there should definately not be any children living with them. I know this moves toward a very touch subject, however, we cannot continue to ignore the adults who put their children in harms way. I personally believe in the drug court and placing those arrested for drug abuse go to treatment not jail.
Drugs and alcohol are not always the problem. Just as Jan Cadero mentioned, mental health is extremely overlooked in all. I am very sorry for Jan's loss, I believe there are many in the US who can understand the pressures her son was feeling. I for one was jobless for over 6 months I too spent many a night crying, fearful of how I was going to survive when there were others out there with families who were (still are) on the road to loosing their house, their transportation, their everything and I wanted them to be chosen for one of the few jobs available before me.
I am positive there are many more children in Ketchikan who have, are or will suffer from depression. I had bouts throughout my years growing up but did not go into "deep" depressions like some do. They feel so bad day after day that they spiral downward. And suddenly they realize they cannot find the way out. Children are facing constant struggles and it's time to make their lives a little less stressful by supplying a safe fun environment THEY will enjoy, not what adults think they would like. This requires getting to know the children what do they like? What would they like to see open up in their town? Where would they like to spend time? A great idea was mentioned to me to open a large facility with a computer lab, ping pong tables, and other activities to keep the kids hands and minds working. Leann Rimes sang 'Mamma said Idle hands are Devil's handy work' Oh the trouble you'll get into". I understand this would require money and money is not an easy thing to come by especially during these economic hardtimes, but aren't your children worth it?

Kristenia Johnson


Received September 16, 2009 - Published September 16, 2009


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