Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Shannae Trotz
Substance abuse and consumption in schools are rampant issues that must be addressed. The words: “Say No to drugs” that are printed behind Government exercise books are simply not compelling enough to stop students from saying “Yes” to drugs and alcohol. During my high school years, I have witnessed my male and female colleagues consuming these substances during and after school hours, but at that time I never found it as a major issue. I felt as though it was just something popular kids did for fun or children who were just influenced by their community, as explained in my social studies notes. I have had colleagues who returned to class after lunch with their eyes red, but they were not sleepy, some had a pungent scent on their clothing, but it was not by playing in the sun, others were acting out of character at times, these were all after effects of using drugs and alcohol within the confines of the school. There are major factors contributing to these substance abuses, but high school students rarely vent, instead they “act out”.
Moreover, every school has its own systems, transactions, locations where they’d use these substances, drugs and alcohol based products as well as their known dealers. These students are so well coordinated and cunning that if they were ever caught, it was probably because someone snitched or the “look-out student” wasn’t doing his/her job correctly. You may ask “Don’t these children know they’re too young to be smoking and drinking?” but the real question is, how do these children get access to drugs and alcohol if they are underage? We can blame their parents, homes and communities, but how are these substances passing through the school gates and circulating in the schools? Are school bags only checked around Easter for squibs? While the other days students are comfortable enough to pass through the gates with their harmful substances? Adults have a hard time overcoming their drug and alcohol addiction, these students are younger and are already consuming them on a regular basis, without understanding the long term effects. Not only are their bodies not developed enough to handle these substances, but it also affects their mental health. Some of these students fail because of their drug use while others use it as a method to cope so they can maintain their high grades. Many times adults would tell these youths not to take drugs or use alcohol, however when at a gathering or party, these same adults would drink, smoke and even offer these youths the same, even if it’s just a little sip or a pull. They are fueling the problem by doing such.
Subsequently, you may not witness these issues but they are very much alive. Students go through different problems and phases in life and many times their youth blinds them from seeing the consequences of their actions. They make decisions and choices they feel is right in the moment, without the need for critical thinking. They know they shouldn’t, but they still will. If they hide their substance consumption and abuse from the public’s view, it may be perceived that the abuse is not there and there will be no need to investigate unless caught. Some students will tell on themselves in a smart way by using their friend as the main character so their parents wouldn’t think they’re capable of doing the same because they were comfortable enough to tell them. It’s an old trick in the book, so parents don’t ever think your child never will, it is important to have serious conversations with your children, but ensure you keep an open mind without resorting to anger.
In conclusion, I believe much is not being done to curb these practices of students, instead of judging them, we must first ask why then find ways to reduce the number of substance abuse and consumption by students. There should be drugs and alcohol tests done in schools, at least a few times a month and it should be unexpected. Teachers should be more vigilant, especially during or after lunch and even after school. Skipping class may also be a sign that something unusual is going on. Counselors, educational programmes/activities and resources educating students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol should be readily available as soon as first form. So even if their homes and communities are lacking in those areas, the guidance, counseling and help they need should be easily accessible.