Elementary Students to be taught drug prevention
The recent arrest of Treasure Mountain eighth-grade students for marijuana possession or use, may seem like a young age, but drug prevention classes are now targeting fourth and fifth-grade classes.
Treasure Mountain International School teaches drug awareness in its eighth-grade health class, according to assistant principal Shawn Kuennen. "Education is definitely the key," he said.
Kuennen said "any drug bust has a tremendous deterrent on the rest of the school, and rightly so."
In March of 2007, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E. will be taught to treasure Mountain eighth-grade students.
"It’s experimentation in school more than actual users," said Officer Ed Clouse, of the Park City Police Department. He said that although drugs run the gamut, marijuana and prescription medication are the most commonly used drugs that he encounters.
Officer Clouse is a D.A.R.E teacher. In December, he will begin teaching the program at McPolin Elementary School, this December. The program lasts 10-12 weeks. He said the best time to start teaching students about drugs is in the fourth or fifth grade, before peer pressure takes on major proportions.
"Talking with them at a young age is important, " Clouse said. "The biggest thing we do is teach them the facts about alcohol, tobacco and drugs."
"This is a very interactive program," he said. "We act out certain scenarios, how to respond, how to produce valid excuses. Unless they use it and practice it, it’s not effective."
Park City High School and Treasure Mountain used to have two Youth Service Officers from the Park City Police Department, who spent much of their patrol duty in one or the other schools. They were funded by a grant, according to Clouse. The grant ran out, and now he alone covers the two schools as well as his patrol duties outside of class.
Kuennen said that students familiarity with officers is important. " If they see the police when things are good, they build positive relationships," he said.
Clouse patrols the area around Treasure Mountain and Park City High School. He does enter the schools, and he is the officer who made the arrests of the four students.
On Friday, Nov. 17, the Park City Police Department did a sweep for drugs at the Park City High School, officers using a K-nine drug-detecting dog, according to assistant principal Dave McNaughtan. No drugs were detected.
"There is such a low percentage experimenting with drugs," Kuennen said.
Drug-Rehabs.Org, part of a non-profit social betterment organization, offers the following statistics on teen drug use in Utah.
Utah teens rank below the national average for drug use.
National statistics show 80 percent of teens will try some type of illegal substance. From 15-19, 50 percent of teens have used drugs or alcohol this month.
In 2003, Utah Student health and Risk Prevention,summary concluded less than 25 percent of Utah teens fell into the category of a drug, alcohol or cigarette user.
Utah teens rank higher than National average for inhalant use
Inhalents can impose the most immediate and dangerous health risks.
Researchers conducting a study found religion and strong family-attachments, to be the best "anti drug.
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