There’s a big problem in Duncan.
It’s not that school officials are having to go out each morning at the board offices and collect needles and other cast-off drug paraphernalia and debris from the homeless who moved in to live nearby over the summer, though clearly that’s a concerning necessity.
It’s that the homeless we’re talking about here are predominantly under the age of 19.
These kids should be in school, not living behind the school board offices.
They should be trying out a new hair colour, not shooting up to dull the pain of their lives, slipping quickly into addiction.
They should be looking forward to college or university, not their next fix.
Officials tell us most of them are girls, and most of them inject drugs. They’re also mostly in foster care.
This is an incredibly vulnerable group.
These girls cannot fail to be emotionally damaged already by life — after all, they are in care for a reason. They are likely no strangers to neglect or even abuse. There’s also the trauma of being separated from their families — bad though they may have been.
Being a homeless drug user isn’t the first choice or life goal for anyone.
They have been failed by numerous people and society as a whole to wind up where they are, on school property learning how to inject poison into themselves when they should be learning physics and literature.
The likely future path of these girls is all too clear.
Prostitution is one common way they will be able to get the drugs they crave.
Other types of abusive relationships will also be a common denominator, whether it’s pimps, significant others or spouses.
These girls are wounded prey for those twisted individuals who set out to target such young women with only ill intentions.
Some will wind up with multiple children they are unable to care for by the time they hit their 20s, perpetuating the cycle. After all, chances are these children, too, will be shuffled into foster care sooner or later.
A very few will make it out and move on to a better life.
More will likely end up dead, whether from violence or from an overdose.
With fentanyl hitting the streets the mortality odds just go up.
We, the collective we, have failed them.
We must figure out a way to do better, or there will inevitably be more to follow in their footsteps.