Pubdate: Sat, 04 Aug 2001
Source: Daily News, The (New Zealand)
Contact: +64 6 758 6849
Author: Kim Batchelor and NZPA
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Some Primary School Age Children, Like Their Intermediate And High School 
Counterparts, Have Access To Cannabis.

Highlands Intermediate principal John Knowles, New Plymouth, said he had 
spoken to colleagues in other parts of the country who had had problems 
with primary children and cannabis, but he stressed there was no evidence 
of such a problem in this town.

It was inevitable that children with parents who smoked cannabis would fall 
foul of it, he said.

Three Highlands students have been suspended for selling cannabis to their 
schoolmates this week and a further five children suspended for either 
possessing or using the drug.

Life Education Trust chairman John Goodin said cannabis was a problem in 
all schools, from primary to high schools.

"They (Highlands) are no different from any other school in Taranaki."

He said if senior primary children "haven't already sampled it (cannabis) 
they certainly know what it is".

"This is a family problem, a society problem, not the schools. The kids see 
their parents doing it, they see it as the norm, it's no different from 

Mr Goodin praised the work Highlands had done in drug education.

"They have been very pro-active. I give them full marks for what they are 

Mr Knowles said drugs in schools was a national problem.

"I think we've actually got a real minor situation here in terms of what's 
been going on in some communities around the country. I don't think there'd 
be an intermediate school in the country that hadn't dealt with it one way 
or another."

He said cannabis in schoolyards had become more prevalent and could now be 
compared with children's access to cigarettes in the past.

"I feel for the kids . . . We've got to show, as a school, to our community 
that we take a hard line on children involved, but at the same time ensure 
the children get good counselling and get good advice, and hope like hell 
they get a good enough fright that they don't want to do it again."

In this week's incident, Highlands suspended indefinitely the students 
accused of selling the drug.

The trio - a girl, aged 11, her brother, 12, and another 12-year-old boy - 
are being dealt with by the police youth aid section. The school's board of 
trustees intends to hold a meeting to discuss their future.

The other five children aged 11 and 12, one of which was an 11-year-old 
girl, who were allegedly caught using or possessing the drug, were 
suspended for three days.

Mr Knowles said he was meeting parents, and the school would ensure drug 
education and counselling were provided.

The mother of the children, a 36-year-old New Plymouth woman, has been 
charged with possession of cannabis.

She will appear in the New Plymouth District Court on August 9.
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