Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jan 2003
Source: Winkler Times (CN MB)
Copyright: 2003 Winkler Times
Author: Ellie Reimer


A parent education drug program How to Drug Proof Your Kids was a success,
says Constable Arnie Klassen of the Winkler Police Service.

Klassen ran the six two-hour sessions, which began Oct. 21, at the Winkler
Elementary School. Nine parents were registered for the program, and, while
Klassen says there would have been room for more, the size worked well,
especially for the discussion component of the program.

"There was a lot of interaction between the parents, a lot of sharing of
experiences and sharing what worked for them," he said.

Prevention, intervention

Developed by Focus on the Family, the program focuses on prevention and
early intervention. It encourages parent education, and includes statistical
information, counselling referral services and access to educational

The emphasis of the program is prevention and early intervention, along with
learning to deal with current drug problems and relapses. Although not
specifically designed for that age group, the participants in Klassen's
workshop were parents of younger children not yet into the drug scene who
were keenly interested in the prevention aspect.

"One of the comments from the parents was that parents of children doing
drugs should be very strongly encouraged to attend," said Klassen. "There
was a lot of good information about drugs, their street names, the effect
they have and the harm they do, symptoms parents should be aware of and on
the look out for, things like that."

A part of the workshop was intentional interaction between the parents and
their children at home.

Knowing your kids

One of the homework assignments was a questionnaire to help parents
determine how well they know their children.

"The questionnaire asked things like 'What was your child's favourite gift?'
and "Who is your child's favourite teacher?', things like that," explained
Klassen. "The parents filled it out on their own first, and then they went
through it together with their children."

The point of the exercise was to emphasize the importance of knowing your
children, of being involved in their lives.

"The more you are involved in their lives, the more you can influence their
choices," said Klassen.

As the father of three teen and pre-teenage children, he realizes the
importance of parents' involvement in their children's lives and the
importance of parents being aware of the problems their children are facing.
And, as a police officer in Winkler, he is keenly aware of the local drug
problem in Winkler.

As might be expected, he is not happy with the current movement towards the
decriminalization, or even legalization, of marijuana. "I realize people
suffering from cancer and other illnesses may derive some benefits from it,"
he said, "but there are ways to allow for that. As a police officer, I'm not
in favour, and as a parent, I certainly don't want my children to have free,
legal access to marijuana."

Effects minimized

Klassen says he thinks the harmful effects of marijuana have been minimized.

"I see a lot of the harm that marijuana does," he said. "If it should be
legalized, police officers should have the authority to test for it.
Marijuana definitely affects people's ability to use motor vehicles safely,
so if we can't test for it, it shouldn't be legalized."

Klassen says he will consider running the program again sometime early in
the new year.
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