It won't happen to me.....

In Sydney's Northern Beaches, the local paper, The Manly Daily in recent times has been focused a lot on a local girl, Annabel Catt, who died from taking a version of Ecstasy. You may be familiar with the coverage when the ABC came under fire earlier this year for airing a show, Summer Heights High, with a similar storyline to Catt's death.

This has been a very emotional issue for the local community, as she was young, only 20, and it has sparked a campaign by her family to try to raise more awareness of the issue, in the same manner as Anna Wood's death did. Anna wood was only 15 when she died, and it was a wake up call to a community that was probably pretending drugs were something junkies did, not schoolgirls. Interestingly, Anna Wood's father thinks its more likely the ABC SHH program was based on his daughter.

Anna Wood would have been 27 now, the same age as my brother.

When I was in Year 8 at school, I was what, 15/16 myself? We actually went to school with the son of Bronwyn Donaghy, who wrote Anna's Story, which is a non-fiction account, posthumously written by taking accounts from her friends and family.
Mrs Donaghy came to a camp we had and spoke about her experience, 3 years earlier, in meeting the Wood family (whom she previously had no connection with) and sharing their pain in losing their daughter in such a senseless way.
The message of the talk was that drugs can kill, and "party" drugs aren't benign, you never know what's in them and the effects can be devastating.

Unfortunately behind the scenes, for 100 school kids, the message was also "what an idiot" and "as if you wouldn't call an ambulance". Everyone walked away thinking, consciously or unconsciously, It Won't Happen To Me.

This week, Annabel Catt's family are trying to raise awareness about drugs, by visiting a primary school to launch the "Keep Aussie Kids Safe" campaign being run by Life Education Australia at all primary. They feel if they share their pain with primary school children and their parents across the nation, they can help others. This is a noble action, and would be great, if it worked.

The problem with these talks, vital as they are, is that they don't really work, and this is the biggest hurdle facing drug education. The most effective lessons about drugs are learnt the hard way- through experience.

It makes me wonder whether the "It Won't Happen To Me" mentality ever goes away. Or does it simply become "It Won't Happen To Us" when we have our own children. When does it develop? I am sure that on some level, primary school age children are still thinking that with "heroes" like Ben Cousins and Andrew Johns popping pills, that if they try one, It Won't Happen To Them. And why wouldn't they?

I'm not saying teenagers are going to be exposed to drugs and they won't have any power to stop them, being the mindless idiots that they are. That's not what I'm saying at all.
But this mentality permeates society and permeates all of our thinking, without really asking for it, because Bad Things Don't Happen To Good People.
And as far as we're all concerned, since we aren't Saddam Hussein, we are all Good People.

People feel sorry for families like the Catt's and the Woods, but secretly they think something "must be wrong in that family". Maybe they don't eat at the table together, maybe their kids are latchkey kids, whatever people's measure of normal, and "right" is, they suspect when something horrendous happens, it must be something in the way the children were raised. This isn't neccessarily true, no matter how children are raised, everyone knows the phrase, Curiosity Killed the Cat. Curiosity is a natural, human reaction to new things.

Annabel Catt's friends, I can guarantee you, will still be taking drugs. Their friend is DEAD, and they'll still be out, popping pills "to deal with it". Because even though it DID happen to their friend, It still Won't Happen To Me.

6 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

Anonymous said...
December 17, 2007 1:53 PM

Annabel's friends are not "popping pills" to deal with it.

you have no right to say that when you have no idea or no evidence that gives that.

you said people don't learn until personal experience. Annabel's death was a lesson for everyone who knows her.

Youhave no right to say what you have about her friends. Have some respect.

Dataceptionist said...
December 17, 2007 2:18 PM

Welcome to the blog Anonymous, and
thanks for your viewpoint, this post is simply MY viewpoint from my observations and my musings.

That said, I have it on good authority that her friends ARE still doing it, and yet they have the nerve to look her parents in the eye and pretend they aren't. And I personally, think thats disgusting.

You're most welcome to put your viewpoint across here though.

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2008 10:46 AM

okay for starters - you need to check your 'good authority' because i know for a fact that between her friends & her family's friends, drugs are a no go zone after what happened to annabel. i think you should stick to facts and not hearsay. you may say it 'bugs' you but honestly, if it isn't truthful, dont say it. it is very hurtful to her family & friends to hear all sorts of garbage people spout. i think you need to consider someone else before you go around making slanderous comments.

speaking as a family friend, you need to get your story straight.

Dataceptionist said...
February 12, 2008 11:37 AM

Hi anonymous 10:46 AM, not sure if you're the same anonymous as the first. Either way, this blog is my opinion based on what information I have to hand.
Personally, I think anyone that does drugs is a moron, and I have the utmost sympathy for her family left behind from the actions of a teenage girl who never thought about the possible consequences of her actions, and considering the amount of information that is available regarding the dangers of drugs, I am honestly amazed anyone can continue to do them.
As the post is titled, "it won't happen to me", I beleive she typifies this belief in young people.
Sorry you've been offfended, you don't have to continue reading. Or maybe you could get some thicker skin, because I'm allowed to have my own thoughts on the matter.

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2008 11:53 AM

thank you for your apology but i dont feel i need thicker skin. i believe what i said has been misconstrued, as if you are on the defensive as all i have done is inform you of the slanderous comments you have posted and that you simply do not have all the facts.
you are entitled to your opinion, we all are. however, as a society ignorance is no excuse. just so we are clear, the true definition of ignorance is to 'the lack of knowledge or education'.
may i suggest you consider your hurtful comments before you type them - judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1)
what i say will not matter to you (or at least i feel it wont) because you are not in the same situation. i hope you will consider others and your views may be changed if such a fate ever meets one of your friends or family members.

Dataceptionist said...
February 12, 2008 12:01 PM

On the contrary anonymous, what you say does matter to me, I seek to understand everything I can about any topic I can.

Your measured comment indicates to me that you're not a raving loony, just trying to have a go at me, and you really do seek to simply indicate that I have something out of place. I would like to point out though, that this post is dated October last year, and at the time, my information was current, from a friend.

however thats not the entire point of the post, the point of the post was to inspire debate about the culture of young people not thinking that anything bad could ever actually occur to them.
Eg It makes me wonder whether the "It Won't Happen To Me" mentality ever goes away.

Loads of people I know do drugs, loads of people I know could name a handful of people they know who have experienced negative effects, and yet people are still doing it. Which just baffles me quite frankly.

I don't understand why, but that doesn't stop me trying.

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