To the editor:
Re: “It’s time to really talk about pot, say educators,” Oct. 16.
I appreciated reading Fiona Hughes’ column. As a drug policy reform researcher and the director of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy along with Dr. Rodney Skager, we have proposed fundamental changes in drug prevention education for the past decade in Canada and the U.S.
First and foremost most drug education should be moved up into secondary schools.
Currently there is very little drug education for teenagers and what there is merely repeats earlier messages that often are no longer credible to high school students. Continued widespread use by teenagers of alcohol and other drugs suggests that “inoculating” most children against experimentation and use later on as teenagers has failed.
Our public schools whenever possible under the law should emphasize assistance rather than punishment. Effective assistance strategies will reduce negative statistics on low achievement, poor attendance and dropping out of school.
Educators for Sensible Drug Policy (EFSDP) and our respected consultants have found:
- Substance use remains common among high school students.
- The goal of inoculating children against later alcohol and drug experimentation has been unrealistic.
- School punishment policies have not deterred widespread use of alcohol and other drugs among high school students.
- Youth has a voice and it deserves to be heard.
- Drug education for teenagers must be genuinely interactive.
- Student assistance offers an appropriate structure .
Examples of these findings are readily available through EFSDP. Student assistance programs have proved effective and very successful. These findings suggest that working with young people to facilitate self-examination and development for self and others is highly recommended by educators who want to work with health care professionals and drug educators in our public schools.
Our goal is to provide ideas over ideology, compassion over coercion and rehabilitation over punishment.
Judith Renaud, Executive Director Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, Gibsons, B.C.
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