SCHOOL DRUG CRISIS: 20 students suspended every week

Twenty students are being suspended each week for using or possessing drugs in NSW schools, data from the NSW Department of Education shows.

In 2013, schools across the state issued up to 790 extended suspensions for drug offences, the highest number in almost a decade, and more than double the number of suspensions in 2009.

In an Australian National Council on Drugs survey, principals from government, independent and Catholic schools cited cannabis and alcohol as the biggest concerns. However, students were also found to have taken ice, amphetamines and ecstasy.

The president of the Secondary Principals Council (SPC), Lila Mularczyk, says that schools can make the most of available support networks to help raise awareness on the issue. 

To assist schools in this area, the DEC provides school principals with a series of requirements to help staff plan and implement appropriate responses to drug related incidents. 

“The [DEC] report shows that the rigorous program that schools have in place ensures that students get the appropriate support and help,” Mularczyk told The Educator, adding that parents can also be involved in the process.

“This support is also enhanced by the programs that we have in PDHPE and other syllabus areas that are age appropriate on this topic.”

Australian Drug Foundation national policy manager, Geoff Munro, agreed with Mularczyk that parents have a vital role to play in educating their children about drugs.

Munro said that the issue should be tackled early, proposing that children as young as seven or eight should be educated by their parents about the dangers posed by drugs and alcohol.

“It is important that parents talk to their children around issues of ice and other drugs; parents are influential in their children’s attitudes,’’ Munro said.

“Evidence says that if parents warn their children against using illegal drugs they are likely to do so.’’