Yet even the supposed safeguards of a faith-focused family and a suburban upbringing could not protect Maddie from the evils of drug abuse.

Her death was a blunt lesson to the rest of us that we, as parents, and as a community, need to be aware of the dangers that can ensnare our children.

In response to her death, Divine Savior Holy Angels and Marquette University high schools brought in a national expert on drugs and alcohol to speak to students and parents in September.

Robert Stutman’s words were no doubt another jolt of reality for the nearly 500 parents in attendance. After speaking with DSHA and Marquette students in the afternoon, he let parents know that their teens are “right in the middle of the mainstream of the drug and alcohol issue in the United States.”

While Stutman brought a somber message about the increasing numbers of young drug addicts in the U.S. and the relatively new danger of pharmaceutical drugs, he also brought advice for parents, teachers and others who work with teens on how to help stem the tide of teen drug abusers. Above all, he warned parents not to leave with the righteous feeling, “Thank God, it’s not my kid.” It could so easily be your kid and parents must always be on the watch, keeping lines of communication open between themselves and their children.

Read his advice on Pages 6 and 7 of this month’s Catholic Herald Parenting, along with the first person experiences of Mike Kiefer, Maddie’s father, who spoke candidly about his daughters’ struggles with drugs and alcohol.

As tragic as Maddie’s death was, Stutman reminded parents that the lessons others can learn regarding teens and drugs should not be lost.
And for parents of young children who might think these warnings don’t apply to them now, Stutman stresses that parents should begin as early as 6 or 7 to reinforce concepts of good vs. bad medicine.

Also in this issue, don’t miss Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck’s column on Page 5. She writes about being uncomfortable with pro-life bumper stickers and pro-life T-shirts with large photos of unborn babies. What, for a Catholic, could possibly be unsettling about the pro-life message? Aren’t we taught that “adoption not abortion,” is the answer?

Hopefully, we have your attention by now.

To find out why Scobey-Polacheck is uncomfortable with some aspects of the pro-life message, read her Training Wheels column inside. It’s certainly food for thought!