Pubdate: Tue, Oct 31 Nov 2006
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Tracy Dermott


It's Not a Secret -- Drugs Have Become a Big Issue In Schools.

Nottawasaga OPP Det. Sgt. Tim Melanson said while there is a large 
variety of illegal drugs to choose from, but the most popular is 
still marijuana.

"There are some chemicals -- ketamine, coke, ecstasy. It depends on 
who has money and what's available," he said. "I still see some hash, 
LSD. We've got reports of crack too. Crystal meth has shown up, but 
it's not as prevalent as it is in Barrie or the city."

He also pointed out drug users are getting younger.

"It's because of peer pressure," Melanson said. "It's (pot) made a 
comeback. It's more available and they're trying it much younger."

Melanson believes the first step in nipping drug abuse in the bud is 

"It's got to be instilled in them from when they're young," he said.

"Open communication is important. Knowing the consequences of drugs 
- -- on their health and their future."

He also sings the praises of educational programs, such as DARE -- 
Drug Abuse Resistance Education. In the Nottawasaga OPP detachment, 
the program, aimed at children in Grade 6, is led by Const. Harry 
Lawrenson, who is also the national training facilitator for police 
forces in Canada. Over the past 10 years, Lawrenson said he's 
probably delivered DARE to 10,000 students throughout 18 schools in 
South Simcoe.

"It works," Lawrenson said as he was on his way to New Brunswick to 
train police officers there on the DARE program. "What it does is 
creates a great connection between youth and the police."

Starting in 2007, Lawrenson will also be offering parents a DARE 
program, which will help them keep the open communication Melanson 
said that is so important.

But for the children who have already started to experiment with 
narcotics, Melanson said there are a few signs to look for.

"The telltales are keeping a different circle of friends, change in 
appetite, tiredness and wanting to sleep all of the time, school 
marks slide, they become disinterested in whatever they used to be 
into, and wanting more money," he said.

For children who find themselves in the spiral of drug abuse, but 
want to get out, Melanson said there are a few people to talk to.

"They can go to the police, the high school OPP officer, a counselor 
at school," he said. "As for parents, talk to the police, doctor or 
the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit."

Melanson recently talked to a group of parents in Angus to teach them 
how they can deal with their children if they suspect drug abuse.

"Speak to them straight up," he said. "Don't condemn them, they're 
going to lie to you. But you have to keep talking to them. You can't give up."
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MAP posted-by: Elaine