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Tips on How to Ensure Your Child's School Is Keeping Students Drug Free
Children have the best prospects for leading healthy, drug-free lives when schools support parents in their anti-drug message. There should be nothing confusing or contradictory in what children learn about drugs from the adults in their lives, and school policies need to reflect the same attitude toward alcohol and drugs that you express at home: Drug use is not acceptable. Drugs diminish a child's ability to concentrate and follow through on academic responsibilities, they cause absenteeism and loss of motivation, and students who use them can be disruptive and drain teachers' time and energy.
The best way to ensure that the anti-drug policies at your child's school are strong is to be involved. You can:
Learn about the current policies regarding alcohol and other drugs at your child's school. If there is no anti-drug policy in place, attend parent volunteer or curriculum review meetings, or schedule an interview with the principal to help develop a policy. The policy should specify what constitutes an alcohol, tobacco or other drug offense, spell out the consequences for failing to follow the rules, and describe procedures for handling violations.
Familiarize yourself with drug education in your child's school. Faculty members should be trained to teach about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Drug education should be taught in an age-appropriate way at each grade level throughout the year rather than only once during a special week. Drug education may be taught during health class, but all teachers should incorporate anti-drug information into their classes. There should be a parent education component. The school's program should be based on current research. Depending on the drug education conditions at your child's school, you may want to become more involved and inform the school administrators that there is a need for improvements in these areas.
Immerse yourself in the school's drug education program at home. Ask your child to show you any materials distributed during or outside class and take the opportunity to review them together.
Find out if your child's school conducts assessments of its drug problem and whether these results are used in the program.
Ask what happens to those who are caught abusing drugs. Does the school offer a list of referrals for students who need treatment?
Request and examine any existing materials. Do they contain a clear message that alcohol, tobacco and other drug use is wrong and harmful? Is the information accurate and up to date?
Investigate whether your school's drug program is being evaluated for success. Research indicates that some of the most effective programs emphasize the value of life skills such as coping with anxiety, being assertive and feeling comfortable socially. When these lessons are combined with drug education, students confronted with drugs are better equipped to resist them.