Now more than ever, school system officials must present specific drug education and awareness programs several times a year to middle and high school students.
Educating and informing these kids about the dangers of opioids, alcohol and other drugs is key, but how to ensure that message is heard loud and clear requires some outside-the-box methodology. The same materials presented years ago are no longer applicable today. If it’s the same information presented over and over again, the receivers — the students in this case — become numb to what they are being told.
That’s why some shock and horror through personal accounts are needed to ensure there is a fear factor with students. At an event in Ocean City in March, a well-known drug speaker and former user told this editor there is nothing wrong with telling impressionable children if you ever experiment with drugs you will die instantly. He said the time has come to scare kids before their lives are changed and ruined forever.
This very topic surfaced at the Worcester County Board of Education meeting this week when resident Cindy Elliott asked the school board to show all county students a powerful and disturbing documentary called “Chasing the Dragon” created by the FBI and DEA about the dangers of opiate addiction.
“What we’re here to discuss is the opioid epidemic in our schools…,” she said. “My family had fallen prey to the monster of this epidemic and it truly is only the grace of God that we are out of that right now and not still within its grasp. It’s a hell beyond belief. I’m not telling any of you anything you’re not aware of.”
The timing of this suggestion was interesting because Snow Hill High School students will be watching this video next week prior to their prom. Afterwards, students will be surveyed about their reactions to the video. Depending on their responses, the school system will consider showing the video at other schools. We hope it does get shown.
In this day and age when obituary sections are routinely full of young people — typically men in their early- to mid-20s — losing their lives because of overdoses, there can never be enough information presented to these young minds. We feel it’s incumbent upon the school system to be out in front of this issue. Educating and informing is not enough. We need to scare our kids by presenting the facts and personal stories that will carry an impact.
The good news is Worcester County Public Schools does a reasonable job of spreading the anti-drug message to its students. Each year the school system offers Red Ribbon Week events aimed at informing students about the dangers of drugs and the importance of making sound decisions to ensure they stay healthy and grounded on a path to success. There are other activities as well.
These annual events are important, but the time is now to go further beyond the norm. It has to be addressed with vigor and there needs to be multiple assemblies, speakers and presentations throughout the school year. The students can’t hear these messages enough. Public and private schools have a duty to bring these messages into the school. They need to be intense and thought provoking to curb the new realities present in our culture today.