Are K-12 Schools and Colleges Doing Enough on Drug Education, Prevention and Enforcement?
Are K-12 schools and colleges doing enough on drug education, prevention, and enforcement? That’s the question that the title of this article poses. If you ask me, I would say no. Why do I say this? Keep reading to find out.
Are K-12 Schools Doing Enough?
K-12 schools still do their own version of “Just Say No to Drugs” campaigns, but this neutered attempt to educate students about the horrors and consequences of drug use does not go far enough. It’s a PG version of what probably should be a Rated R production.
Kids do not need sanitized speeches from teachers and principals about the fact that drugs destroy your body, make you an addict, and ruin your life. They need to hear this from former drug addicts who lost it all, preferably citizens of their own cities, or former graduates of their high school. They need to find out about their worst days, when their addiction to drugs made them do unspeakable acts, just to earn enough money to buy more drugs. They need to know how it wrecked their marriage and how they were shunned by their own children, friends, and family. Yes, they need to know what it looks like when an addict hits rock bottom.
Then and only then, will K-12 drug programs be able to combat the glorification of drug use that we see in the entertainment and celebrity world. Here is what K-12 schools are up against. Rappers like Little Wayne and Future glorify the use of a drug called Lean, which is made up of prescription-strength cough syrup (an opiate), soft drinks and hard, fruit-flavored candy (can’t make this stuff up). The side effects of this drug is extreme sedation, seizures and in some cases death. Some people have reported using the drug a one time and suffering from seizures for the rest of their lives.
K-12 students need to hear about the horror stories of celebrities and entertainers who almost lose or lose it all because of drugs. Demi Lovato ended up in hospital after a heroin overdose in 2018. In February 2018, she checked herself back into rehab. This is the type of information that K-12 schools must leverage. Drug addiction is not something that you can do during high school and college and think that you can quit after your partying days are over. For most addicts, it becomes a lifelong struggle that greatly diminishes their quality of life. This is what K-12 schools must force students to confront.
K-12 schools should adopt a no-nonsense “zero tolerance” policy on drug use and drug dealing on school property. For many, this may seem harsh, and some will say that it will disproportionately affect minority and disenfranchised students. If this is a valid concern for your school district, consider restorative justice. A restorative justice approach that rehabilitates offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large can go a long way towards keeping kids in class and out of the criminal justice system.
This is what drug education, prevention, and enforcement should look like in K-12.
Are Colleges Doing Enough?
It is easier to get drugs and alcohol on a college campus that it is in the inner city. Students freelance as liquor, marijuana, and hard drugs salesmen, with many literally using the illicit funds to pay their tuition and rent. And they benefit from a captured market. College students are notorious drug users, with many seeing drug use and partying as a right of passage.
Even the straight-laced, non-partying students are getting swept up in the drug craze. Straight A students aren’t buying drugs to party, they are purchasing illicit drugs to boost their energy level or help them retain more information. They are hoping that these drugs will give them the edge in their courses and also on graduate school entrance exams such as the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).
For their part, institutions of higher education think that they are tough on drugs, but the results speak for themselves. Then when a student dies from an overdose or a rowdy party gets out of hand, they say it was an isolated incident. We all know that frat parties will continue to be fueled by drugs and alcohol and that colleges will continue to turn a blind eye, saying “boys will be boys.”
What colleges need is a more comprehensive approach to drug education, prevention, and enforcement. Their policies need to get tougher and embrace a “zero tolerance” policy. This should be enforced with equity in mind, meaning that “first generation” and “legacy” students all get equal treatment. At freshman orientation, strict drug policies need to be introduced, and colleges should have an anonymous hotline for the reporting of violators. Offenders should be prosecuted and expelled. End of discussion. If colleges adopt a more no-nonsense approach to drug education, prevention, and enforcement, drug use on campuses across American will take a nose dive.
What do you think? Are K-12 and colleges doing enough on drug education, prevention, and enforcement?