November 30, 2012
I’m a mom and a teacher, and being in the field of education and a mother of three makes all issues surrounding drug abuse both personally and professionally significant.
As a teacher, I have witnessed students struggle with their own addictions and substance abuse issues within their families and among their friends. It is not only painful to witness, but it’s an extremely difficult issue to address with students and families.
I’ve observed the difficult-to-ignore, pungent smell of marijuana when walking down the hallways of a high school. I have noticed the student who used to try so hard transform into a kid who can barely hold his eyes open during class. I’ve seen too many young women with tear-stained cheeks, too many students who are visibly exhausted all the time. Unfortunately, the number of students who fit these descriptions is, in my experience, increasing exponentially. Whether a desk in my classroom is empty in the figurative or literal sense, it is a loss for everyone.
Being able to recognize when drugs and alcohol are already an issue in a child’s life is of course incredibly important. But for me, the greater goal is to prevent. Unfortunately, today’s children are exposed to drugs and alcohol and an increasingly young age. Teachers in middle schools and even in elementary schools have an abundance of substance abuse-related stories about their students.
In order to make a real difference when it comes to this escalating issue, we must as educators and parents start the conversation at a young age. Many of the students who have chosen to confide in me about their experiences have mentioned that their parents have had one or two very serious conversations with them about substance abuse, but not a routine conversation. These students gave me some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever received, without even realizing it! Because of what they’ve said, I discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol use with my own kids at every opportunity I am given – many of which are self-created.
While there is no foolproof way of preventing my kids from trying drugs, I know that a lot of awareness is better than not enough.
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