Pubdate: Sat, 15 Jun 2002
Source: Sackville Tribune-Post (CN NK)
Copyright: 2002 The Sackville Tribune-Post Ltd.
Author: Mary Moszynski


An ongoing police investigation into substance abuse at Marshview Middle 
School has resulted in at least one student being charged, and has prompted 
school and community officials to hold meetings to discuss what can be done 
to lower the number of students using drugs and alcohol.

Sackville town police, without giving specifics, said there has been at 
least one charge processed to date with others pending on approval from the 
crown prosecutor.

Cpl. Robin MacDonald said the Sackville Police Force had been monitoring 
the situation for a "considerable amount of time" with concerns of alcohol 
and possible drug abuse at the school.

"During this period it was established that both had been used," he said, 
"with the drugs being mainly marijuana."

MacDonald said the police will be continuing their investigation and that 
in some cases the school has also taken action.

The police have also been in contact with a number of parents about their 
children's involvement and MacDonald said he is pleased with most of the 
reaction and input.

Around 10 students have been identified by the police as having at least 
experimented with marijuana.

However, MacDonald said the problem is relative.

"There shouldn't be a panic here," he said, adding however "we are concerned."

Principal Diane Murray Barker said she knows there's a definite problem.

"I have found alcohol and drug paraphernalia on the school premises," she 
said, adding alcohol has been consumed by students during lunchtime and recess.

And although she doesn't think the problem is worse than most schools would 
encounter, she said the school is dealing with the matter seriously and 

"Just because something is a common practice doesn't mean it should be 
tolerated," she said.

A meeting, which ran almost three hours, was held at the school May 22 to 
discuss the problem with parents and come up with some positive steps to 
finding a solution. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting.

A letter written to Marshview parents after the meeting said the community 
and school must work together to find a solution.

"Aware that many of the problem students 'hang out' in certain areas, we 
must admit what is happening at those locations and find strategies to 
prevent the anti-social aspects of these gatherings," the letter reads. "We 
must convince students that substance abuse is not 'cool'."

The letter also states the school needs more communication with the 
families of its students and will increase the use of newsletters, phone 
calls, meetings and personal interviews.

The school will also expand its educational programs and organize a meeting 
with an addiction counsellor to inform parents about preventing and 
detecting substance abuse in adolescence. The school will also reintroduce 
decision-making and self-esteem programs that have been offered in previous 

Not only is substance abuse "destructive" to the students, it also takes up 
a lot of administrative time.

Murray Barker said it can take at least eight hours from finding out 
there's alcohol on school property to finding out who was involved and 
dealing with them.

MacDonald said he commends the school's honesty and quick action with the 

"The school, parents and community can certainly gain the upper hand in 
this situation," he said. "It's really important to recognize the school 
has taken a very pro-active approach here."

Another meeting will be held tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 p.m. in the 
school's library to discuss what concrete steps are to be taken and in 
order to create a timeline.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth