Owens educates parents, school officials

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lt. Malcolm Owens has served as a school resource officer at Greenville High School and Greenville Middle for more than a decade.

During that time he’s seen and dealt with a number of issues within the school system. On Jan. 24 Owens held a seminar to provide parents, teachers and administrators with information to help combat problems facing the school system, such as bullying, drugs, gangs and sexting.

“There’s something about these kids,” he said. “They have this code of silence (when it comes to bullying). Kids know things but they don’t tell them. We don’t get it until it’s too late.”

Owens encourages parents, teachers and administrators to gain a trust with students and children so that they will come to adults in confidence if there is an issue.

“Facebook – I don’t like it,” Owens said. “It has good intentions, but kids are using it to harass each other and nobody is monitoring it.”

Children harass each other on the weekends, get to school on Monday and break into fights, Owens said. He said the worst part is that parents know about the bullying, but wait to send their child to school so that administrators can deal with the problem.

“Our parents witness this bullying and witness this harassment,” Owens said. “Who do they want to handle their problems? Administrators.”

Bullying isn’t the only problem administrators are facing. School officials also have to keep an eye out for drugs.

Owens said that while there isn’t a large drug problem within the school system, he wouldn’t say there is no problem with drugs.

“I’m glad we don’t have a drug problem here like there are in some places,” Owens said. “I’m not going to say it’s not here because it is. It’s everywhere.”

Some common drugs Owens has seen or heard about include cocaine, marijuana, blunts, lortabs and hydrocodine.

“I’m seeing the cough syrup,” Owens said. “Kids are drinking cough syrup and mixing cough syrup. They’re getting cigars and dipping them in the cough syrup and putting them on the dashboard to dry.”

One aspect the school system has really cut down on is gang activity and paraphernalia, Owens said.

Two well-known gangs are the Crips and the Bloods. Owens said there are major signs to look for if a student is a member of a gang.

“Any word with the letter ‘B’ in it, a Crip will mark it out,” Owens said. “That should send up a red flag. If you see a dollar sign or the playboy bunny, that is really like gang literature.”

Crips also call each other “cuz,” Owens said as well as wear a Colorado Rockies hat, which really stands for “Crips Rule.”

“I’m not saying take their caps up, but it’s just something to look out for,” Owens said. “The Crips’ (colors) are usually blue or black but they may wear orange or yellow. Bloods are mostly red and white. If you see a red shoestring and a white shoestring, that’s a signal.”

Another major problem in the schools is sexting, Owens said. It is considered a crime if a student sends a nude photo of himself or herself to another student via text message. It is labeled as pornography. When that photo is sent, whoever possesses that photo is committing a crime and if that person who possesses that photo passes it on, then that is also a crime.

“She forward it so she’s wrong, he received it and kept it so that’s possession and when he forwards it out, that’s another crime, and they don’t understand that,” Owens said as an example.