BENTON COUNTY (KFSM)-- For the fourteenth year, those backing 'Drug Free Benton County' addressed local law enforcement on how substance abuse in schools is not limited to alcohol and meth.
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith explained that in the past, the big focus of the initiative was on meth, but things have now changed as a result of the opioid crisis.
Those apart of the 'Drug Free Benton County' initiative have partnered with law enforcement agencies. They're touring Middle Schools to inform students about the dangers of substance abuse.They're also getting feedback from students regarding instances in which they may have been around these drugs.
“We would go wrong, if all we focused on is reacting to crime. We have to work to prevent it, too... be proactive and help kids make the right choices,” Smith said.
Cody Hiland, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said it is the responsibility of law enforcement to arrest drug dealers. However, he also said there's a societal change that needs to be made that cannot be done by lawmakers.
He explained families, churches and communities need to help children steer clear of some of these substances.
“There is an evil out there with this and what does it take for evil to prosper?" Hiland asked.
"It’s for good people to do nothing and I think that’s one thing that the existence of ('Drug Free Benton County') means for Northwest Arkansas (because) doing nothing is not an option.”
Both Hiland and Smith said they hope they were able to educate the audience. They said they hope students will help curtail the drug problem in Benton County.