Local law enforcement and court officials have been working to better understand the drugs that are available to children and teens today and how they’re gaining access to them. Recently, they decided it was about time to share their findings with parents and educators who may come in content with children and teens at risk for exposure to illicit substances.

A public-awareness presentation was held at Sherman High School that featured insight from the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office, Sherman Police Department, Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and the Substance Abuse Council.

“Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are rampant in our schools, on the street, in stores, at the football games and even at home,” Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Laura Wheeler said. “They’re seeing it; they’re around it; and they’re being inundated with it.”

A wide variety of substances and drugs, including alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription medications were addressed.

Sherman Police Detective Jeremy Cox and GCSO Deputy Ryan Miller gave overviews of the drugs popular among teens, discussed their ingredients, appearance, physical effects, and health risks and showed footage from an undercover methamphetamine purchase to show attendees how quickly and easily drugs can be obtained.

“It’s not always as nefarious as you might think, like making a deal on some dark street corner or in an alley with people running around,” Cox said. “Sometimes its just happening in the parking lot of the grocery or convenience store that you’re at. Somebody comes out of the store or rides up in another car, they talk for a minute, hop back in the car and leave.”

But District Attorney Brett Smith said whenever drugs and money are mixed, children may still be putting themselves in dangerous situations.

“A pretty good percentage of our robberies are what we call ‘jacking’ cases,” Smith said. “There are people out there who like to rip off drug dealers, or they’ll jack buyers. It doesn’t happen often, but a child could show up to buy $20 worth of drugs and the next thing they know someone’s pulling out a 9 mm and taking their money.”

The presenters pointed to Snapchat, social media and other online websites as the main ways in which young people arrange to buy and sell drugs. They also urged parents to be aware of all the apps their children download and use on smartphones.

Jonathan Campbell said he learned a lot about drugs after his son struggled with substance abuse and he began skipping school and stealing.

“I know you all love your kids and you want them to love you,” Campbell said. “You want to do right by them and (have) their back. But you can’t ice over it or make it go away. They have to face the consequences.”

Campbell said he was glad to see his son find some stability after a few rough years and encouraged parents to take an active role in their children’s lives and interests.

“The most important thing you can do is sit down and talk with them every day,” Campbell said. “That’s the kind of support and trust that they need.”

The Grayson County District Attorney’s Office will host another drug-awareness presentation on Oct. 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Sanford Elementary School in Van Alstyne. Attendance is free, but participants must be at least 18 years of age or older. For additional information, call Sheri Williams at 903-813-4361.

Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.