Clark County Schools Make Changes Due to Drug Crisis
SPRINGFIELD, OH —Several Clark County school districts have made changes to address the expanding drug crisis, including one district that now keeps overdose revival drugs at its schools and more prevention efforts in the classroom.
A survey of six public Clark County school districts revealed one overdose incident that took place on school property last year — an overdose in the parking lot of Indian Valley School during its latchkey program.
The Southeastern Local School District now has naloxone kits — the drug used to revive overdose victims better known by its brand name Narcan — at both Southeastern High School and Miami View Elementary School as a proactive measure, Superintendent David Shea said.
Southeastern is the lone district in Clark County with Narcan on site.
“My initial thoughts were to have this for student in case, God forbid, something happened, that we have this on hand,” Shea said. “Through further discussions (we thought) what about parents or someone attending an event? That really hadn’t entered into my mind as much as a student.
The Clark County Combined Health District’s 2015 Middle School Youth Risk Behavior study showed about 24 percent of middle school students surveyed said they tried alcohol at least one time, while another 11 percent tried marijuana and 6 percent tried cocaine.
More than 34 percent of high school students said they tried marijuana, according to the 2015 high school study. The study also showed more than 5 percent of students had tried heroin one or more times.
An updated study will be completed later this year, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. More education can help students make better choices, he said, but it’s difficult to find resources to implement programs.
“One of the things we have to realize is that it’s not on the state test,” Patterson said. “The schools are being pulled in lots of different directions.”
Research shows children who use drugs at an early age are more likely to use as adults, he said.
“It’s not a good place for those kids to be,” Patterson said.
The Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education released in February its list of recommendations on options for implementing age-appropriate substance abuse education in schools across all grade levels.
The 15 recommendations included required reporting for schools on substance abuse education, social and emotional content standards, expanded drug abuse education across all curriculum and continuing D.A.R.E. programs.
More awareness is always better, Silvus said. Some one-time programs that have been used aren’t as effective as they’ve been in the past, he said. Rather it needs to be a regular, ongoing part of a student’s education over the years, Silvus said.
“It’s just not something that’s going to go away,” he said.
Greenon recently purchased new health textbooks that address issues with opioids, Silvus said.
“The scary part is trying to figure out where we put that,” Silvus said. “If we put it some place, what are we taking out? We have to find ways to do that but it’s definitely something we’re looking at.”
It’s also important for parents to reinforce the lessons taught by these types of programs by speaking with children about the effects of illicit drugs, Northeastern’s Kronour said.
“Parents need to talk to their kids about drug usage and the damages that it creates, not only for their own personal lives but society in general,” he said.
A new program — Botvin LifeSkills — will be piloted in two schools in Clark County, said Hill, who also serves as president of the Family Children’s First Council.
“Anything we can do from a curriculum standpoint to further educate our students, we’ll continue to look at,” Hill said.
While data for middle school children using drugs is trending downward in recent years, Family and Children First Council Executive Director Leslie Crew wanted to find a way to decrease the numbers even more.
Local schools are stretched with preparing kids to take state tests, she said, leaving no time for character building.
“The day-to-day isn’t about manners or being appropriate in relationships,” Crew said.
It led her to research Botvin LifeSkills, an evidence-based curriculum used in 23 counties across Ohio, including all five districts in Champaign County.
The program will be used in health classes, Crew said, which includes sections on social and emotional resiliency, drug and alcohol prevention and peer relationship skills. It takes place over three years, meaning it can be implemented in third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades.
The program will be done in addition to the D.A.R.E. program, she said. It costs about $2,600 and will be paid for through grants from the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, the Community Health Foundation and United Way. It’s also been endorsed by the Clark County Substance Abuse Task Force.
It will kick-off this year in third grade classes at Miami View Elementary, she said, as well as sixth grade at Tecumseh Middle School. She hopes every district in Clark County will offer the program in the future.
Greenon will examine how it can use the Botvin curriculum, Silvus said.
The earlier the skills can be learned, Crew said it will help students resist the temptation to use drugs.
“That exposure is just so crazy right now that they need anything they can get to say: ‘I want to have a future. I don’t want to make poor choices for myself,’” Crew said. “It also helps them in a judgment-free environment to understand there might be people in your family that do (drugs), but here’s how you can avoid doing that … Having the conversation in regular day-to-day life is a good thing.”
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