Presentation focuses on child safety

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published October 2, 2013

STERLING HEIGHTS — Between 1999 and 2008, law enforcement saw a 300 percent increase in unintentional deaths from prescription drugs, said Detective David Sarvello, of the Sterling Heights Police Crime Suppression Unit.

“They are every bit as addictive as street drugs,” Sarvello said. “Many teens mistakenly believe pharmaceuticals are safer than street drugs. They think it’s a medicine. They think it’s safe. Pharmaceuticals can easily be obtained from the home, doctor, pharmacies, friends or family members.” 

Sarvello was one of several law enforcement members who addressed about 55 parents and community members — including Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte — during a child safety presentation held Sept. 24 at the Sterling Heights High School Performing Arts Center.

Warren Consolidated Schools officials hosted the “Protect Your Kids” event, designed to educate parents on drug awareness, computer crime and social media danger, and critical incidents in schools.

Sarvello’s presentation included information on opiates like heroin, stimulates such as cocaine, and depressants. Sarvello said children are usually introduced to drugs by age 12, and parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs.

“Drug abuse causes a surge in the level of dopamine in your brain, which triggers the feeling of pleasure of euphoria,” the detective said. “Drugs usually will cause clinical depression. To get out of depression, you have to do more drugs. You build up a tolerance. That’s what you should tell your children: through the use of drugs, you’ll be in a constant state of depression. I think you have to hammer home experimenting can lead to abuse and addiction.

“Most of my overdoses and deaths are usually kids that are over 18,” Sarvello said. “If your son or daughter changes friends, you have got to be alert of who these new friends are. You have to know who your kids’ friends are.”

Sarvello advised parents to look inside their children’s rooms and drawers to see what their kids are up to. It’s also advised to look in garbage cans to see if any drug paraphernalia has been thrown away.

Sarvello also provided several consequences of drug abuse parents could share with their children. Drug abuse can cause mental health issues, trouble with the law, sexually transmitted diseases, financial losses, prostitution and homelessness

Kevin Miller, of the Sterling Heights Police Department’s Computer Crimes Unit, talked about various crimes committed online. He said all the detectives in the department are involved in computer investigations.

Miller told the crowd that things that happen “on Facebook will be talked about at school tomorrow” among the students. He also talked about online stalking, child predators, identify theft, narcotics trade and computer terrorism. He said most computer crimes are felonies. When it comes to the Internet, Miller stressed that it’s up to parents to set ground rules.

“You are the parent. You need to take control of what your child is doing,” he said. “Have children use a family email address, not their own. Install parental filtering software. Educator yourself on the operations of the computer’s software. Review your child’s Internet activity. Don’t allow your children to send personal information online.”

“There is no substitute for parental supervision,” Miller’s PowerPoint stated.

Miller advised families never to wire money out of the country, always know to whom you are sending information and never send any personal information via email. He advised only using a credit card with a low credit limit for Internet use.

“Do not use a debit card,” Miller said. “With a debit card, you’re playing with your money. With a credit card, you’re playing with the bank’s money.”

During the evening, Sterling Heights Police Detective Jeff Milke gave a presentation regarding critical incidents, including mass shootings, Hazmat situations, bomb threats, fires, lockdowns and natural disasters.