Substance Abuse: The Harsh Reality of Today’s Schools

Summer has come to an end. A teacher’s favorite three months of the year. It’s back to school time and kids are buying school supplies, new clothes, and sleeping in as long as they can. Teachers are eagerly writing lesson plans and making seating charts in preparation for another year of learning. Although, many kids see school as an opportunity for making friends, doing homework, eating lunch and going to sporting events, some middle and high school students see school as a business opportunity. Unfortunately, I am referring to the sale of recreational drugs on and around school campuses.

Kids who enter today’s Middle and High Schools know exactly who they need to talk to if they want to acquire drugs. According to the Monitoring the Future, drug use and attitudes survey, Alcohol continues to be the “drug of choice,” followed by marijuana, which is a close second. Today’s youth abuse and purchase marijuana like they change their clothes or put gas into their cars. To a certain extend, it almost seems second nature. Why is substance abuse among teens “normal,” in today’s society? How did it become so accessible? More importantly, what can we do about it?

It seems as though some schools are more concerned with respecting a student’s privacy, than cracking down on substance abuse. Although it is a parents responsibility to “raise” their children, I believe it is the school’s responsibility to be proactive versus reactive in fighting the war on substance abuse. Schools need to implement more drug awareness and prevention at the Middle and High School levels. This issue needs to be front and center so we can address it correctly. With the help of law enforcement, we can implement such things as drug-sniffing dogs. The methods I am suggesting do not violate students privacy and they have been proven very effective in deterring substance abuse.

Although it is encouraging that over the past several years we have seen a decline in the abuse of illicit drugs, there has also been an increase of people who do not believe the perceived harmful effects of marijuana. The lasting effects can be detrimental, including: memory loss, decreased coordination, difficulty thinking and problem solving, and distorted perception. Would you want this type of student in your classroom?  As school employees we have to open our eyes and really “see” the kids who come into our classrooms each day. Do you take the time to talk to your students? Do you ask them the hard questions? More importantly, are you their “safe” person to confide in? Let’s all work together to fight this war on substance abuse in our schools.

Resources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends

5 Reasons to Learn Like a 5 Year-Old

 

 

  1. Nothing is impossible. The world is full of mysteries. When you don’t know the limitations of gravity, you will continue to throw the ball, fly the kite, throw the paper airplane and watch what happens. You will make and remake your theories about how it all works. You will ask your mom the same thing a thousand times, expecting a different answer each time. The world is still soft at the edges and malleable. https://www.ted.com/talks/kid_president_i_think_we_all_need_a_pep_talk
  2. How people act are more important than how they look, unless you look at them really carefully and then ask how they got that wart. You might be confused by a difference in skin color or hair color, at first, but then how they react to you influences your perception of them. What makes someone nice or mean is how they act, repeatedly, not what they look like. You observe them very carefully, judging their reactions to your jokes, or questions. Are they smiling or growing frustrated. Do they even notice you? How you can learn from them depends on how they perceive you.
  3. Falling down is so you can learn how to stay on your feet longer. Feeling failure is not an automatic default, it takes years to ingrain that into a child’s psyche. Learning by doing, seeing what works and doesn’t is how things are invented, discoveries made, theories created. https://www.ted.com/talks/tom_wujec_build_a_tower?language=en
  4. A walk around the block should take an hour or more. Cracks in the sidewalk alone raise a million questions; what concrete is made of, why there are cracks, will your mother’s back really break, who come up with that, how is concrete made, who made the sidewalk, and 999, 994 more questions. The ability to observe and notice, using all the senses tell us much more than looking at our iPhones. Most humans have the abilities they need to learn about their environment in order to survive and thrive. Time spent outside, to exercise those senses, is crucial for all of us, not just five year olds. https://www.ted.com/playlists/289/the_genius_of_babies
  5. A run around the block can take 3 minutes. When you are focused and intent, maybe taking on a challenge, you are motivated to get going and finish. The pure joy of using your muscles, going full steam ahead can fill you with exhilaration. Feeling the wind rush past you, and breathing deeply reminds us we are alive.

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