SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — The faces and stories may be different, but they all had one thing in common.
“One pill can kill, absolutely,” Any Neville, a mother, said. “And fentanyl changes everything.”READ MORE: Long Beach Unified Pauses COVID Testing For Students
Drug dealers are targeting kids on Snapchat and other social media platforms. In many instances, they say they’re selling Percocet or Oxycontin, but they’re really peddling a deadly dose of fentanyl.
“We aren’t even a representative of a drop in the bucket of how many lives have been lost through purchases through Snapchat,” Neville said.
She lost her son Alexander nearly a year ago and led the charge Friday in a march toward Snapchat’s headquarters in Santa Monica. But she was not alone.
Across the country there were rallies in 30 cities organized by the Association of People Against Lethal Drugs, including one in Riverside.
“There’s kids dying everywhere from this right now,” Sharleena Antunez, a mother, said. “And I lost my baby because of this.”READ MORE: Mother, Daughter Face Murder Charges After Illegal Butt Implant Procedure Kills Aspiring Social Media Star Karissa Rajpaul
Snapchat said it was trying to combat the problem by cooperating with law enforcement. In a statement, the company said, in part:
“We work to be as proactive as possible in preventing, detecting and combating this type of abuse, and are constantly improving our capabilities in this area.”
Marc Berkman, the CEO of the Organization for Social Media Safety, like many at the rallies, said what Snapchat and others are doing isn’t enough.
“What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to save lives,” he said. “The things we’re working on right now is making sure that all social media platforms that have children operating on them allow parent safety software to add an extra layer of protection for parents.”
More about the steps Snapchat is taking to prevent drug dealers from operating on their platform can be found here.MORE NEWS: Fall Quarter Begins At UCLA, Bringing Students Back to Campus For First Time In More Than 18 Months
As for parents who suspect their children are using these types of drugs, Neville advises them to get them into detox programs immediately.