Did you know that 8 out of 10 high school students and 4 out of 10 middle school students said that they’ve seen schoolmates possessing, using, or dealing drugs, or high or drunk at school? Kids spend about half of their waking hours in school surrounded by peers and teachers who influence the choices they make every day. Kids are more likely to use substances if their school environment is filled with students who view smoking, drinking, and using other drugs as “cool’ and as a rite of passage.
Teens may use substances to increase their popularity, or because of poor academic performance. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only the “difficult” kids who possess and use substances. Teens oftentimes become victims of drug use because they don’t foresee the consequences of their actions or they have teachers and school administrators around them that treat the issue lightly or don’t think it is a big deal.
How can you help your child navigate the challenges of a drug-infected school? First and foremost you can make it a priority to communicate with them on a daily basis. Listen closely to what they have to say, and let them know you’re available to talk when they are having an issue or facing a difficult situation. Let your kids know that you’re aware of the drug problems affecting schools, and ask them if they have witnessed a friend or classmate selling or using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs. Brainstorm with your child and come up with effective responses they can use if they are offered drugs.
Additional tips that will help you ensure a drug-free school for your child:
- Talk to other parents about coming together to bring the issue of student drug use to the attention of the school’s leadership.
- Insist that your child’s school provide substance use prevention curriculum along with substance-free rules and policies. Also, make sure that the school will provide help to the students and families that need it.
- Aim for a school that encourages parental engagement and helps to coordinate support service for all students and their families.
Concerned your child might be experimenting with nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs because of their school environment? Here are some signs and symptoms you should look out for: http://casafamilyday.org/familyday/tools-you-can-use/signs-symptoms-and-prevention/.
What is the policy in your child’s school regarding drug use? Are you satisfied with it?