A recent conversation between concerned parents and a principal at a Chicago-area high school leaves me frustrated and angry. Parents asked the principal about holding a school-sponsored workshop/information session providing information about drug and alcohol abuse. What was the principal’s response?
A. No one would attend, and
B. Hosting such an event would make the school look bad.
So, what you’re saying is… school politics trump student safety?
If the principal can’t stand up to peer pressure, and stand up for the students he is responsible for, how are the students going to fare when dealing with peer pressure? What lesson is the principal teaching his students by ignoring a societal truth? It’s okay to use drugs?
Let’s not send that message. Let’s talk about educating and empowering school faculty and students’ families about drugs and alcohol. Why do kids use drugs? Why hold a school-sponsored workshop? What should your workshop cover? Let’s take a look.
Why Schools Should Hold a Drug & Alcohol Abuse Seminar or Workshop
Any steps a school takes to prevent a problem should be applauded. We have a habit of ignoring issues we find too difficult to approach. Why not make these topics more approachable?
Also, cultivating a spirit of community amongst school faculty and students’ families benefits students’ educational as well as social needs. Communication between teachers and parents may serve as a deterrent to negative behaviors. Think of the stereotypical child asking one parent for permission to do something. When one parent fails to grant permission, the child will turn to the other in hopes of a lack of communication.
Reasons Why Students Abuse Drugs & Alcohol
1. It’s 4:20
5. Drugs and alcohol are available, and possibly free.
6. All his/her friends are trying it.
8. Only thing the child feels “good at”
9. Trying it once won’t matter.
10. It’s a Saturday night.
Benefits of Hosting a Drug & Alcohol Workshop for Teachers & Parents
One benefit of hosting a drug and alcohol workshop is communication. Parents and teachers have the opportunity to work together, learn with and from one another, and build a nurturing community of support for students.
Another benefit for hosting a drug and alcohol workshop for parents is knowledge. The knowledge to empower parents to identify signs of abuse, and hopefully end a problem before it even becomes a problem. Also, students’ knowledge that their parents are aware of current, commonly abused substances may serve to deter students from trying illegal drugs and alcohol.
In addition, holding a seminar or workshop would offer parents the opportunity to learn how to discuss the difficult topic of drug and alcohol abuse with their teens.
What to Include in a School Sponsored Drug & Alcohol Workshop for Parents & Teachers
1. Most current information on popularly abused substances by teens. Types of drugs, “street” names, appearance, price, odor if it has one, paraphernalia for usage.
2. Show-and-tell, if possible. Contact your local police station and request information and/or assistance for educating parents and teachers about identifying illegal substances. Non-prescription drugs account for 8 out of 13 of the most commonly abused drugs.
3. Short-term and long-term effects on user, including: physical signs of drug use, physiological effects, psychological effects, and overall quality of life.
4. Professional Speakers from the field: law enforcement, psychologist and/or social worker, drug abuse counselor specializing in adolescents, recovering drug/alcohol addict, rehabilitation center personnel
5. Dialogue, role playing, and discussion starters: Skip the afterschool special campiness and be realistic. Consider the student(s) behavior in regards to your relationship with him/her. Include teacher-to-parent, parent-to-parent, teacher-to-student, and parent-to-child dialogues to initiate conversations.
Plus, anything else that may be pertinent to the area in which the workshop is being held.
Ignoring Drug & Alcohol Issues
Has anyone ever benefited from ignoring a potential drug or alcohol problem? Will the problem disappear if ignored? Both questions may easily be answered with a NO. Don’t allow your principal, or your child’s principal, to use reputation as an excuse for ignorance. Hold those in leadership positions accountable for acting as leaders. Discussing drug and alcohol abuse may not be popular, but providing knowledge and education is the right thing to do.
Actually, it’s an obligation; because, let’s face it, education is their job.
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