During my time as a substance misuse professional I've heard the phrase 'drugs are not a problem here' more than I've heard anything else and its an attitude that's possessed far and wide. I think its important at this point that we define what is intended by drug education and what is being offered by ACE Drug Training.
If we think of 'drug problems' at something of the heroin epidemic of the 90's then no, fortunately, there may not be a problem in your school or region. This is not the only issue that ACE deals with and if we try and box all drug issues into this category then we are doing the young people we all have a duty to safeguard a disservice.
How many young people's main care giver drinks a bottle of wine throughout the evening therefore 'normalising' drinking? Or the young people who come to school and their clothes smell of cannabis but school are not comfortable or confident about addressing this issue with the family so it goes unsaid? What about the children who's parents still smoke with them in the car despite the change in law not too long ago? Or the children who bring questionable packets or bags in their reading folders but you cant be 100% certain about what it is? Or those with older siblings who know a little too much? There are so many situations that may be familiar to you but because the child's attendance is good, appearance hasn't changed or they don't say anything we don't notice it. What's more is that because professionals have their own set of values we accept some behaviours and not others.
The point of drug education is not about demonising parents for their decisions, scaring the young people or enforcing our view onto them. Its simply about giving them age appropriate information for them to identify risk, make informed decisions and to know where and how to access help, support or information relating to substance use or wider safeguarding issues. Schools are not only responsible for educating young people but for helping to shape them from boys and girls to young men and women who can thrive in the adult world long after the comfort of the school environment is gone. In order to give them the best chance we need to broaden our horizons from just maths and English and include drug education, sex education and other real life skills.
Staff training is another important factor. ACE drug training offers brief and/or more in depth training sessions with the aim of enabling staff to confidently be able to notice signs and symptoms, be able to ask appropriate questions, and to effectively be able to deal with drug related issues, however trivial, as and when they arise.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me or visit www.acedrugtraining.co.uk for more information.