HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Harm Reduction No Cure For Drug Use In Schools
Pubdate: Sun, 08 Feb 2004
Source: Kamloops This Week (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Kamloops This Week
Author: Danna Johnson
Bookmark: (Youth)


Harm reduction is fine for drug addicts in Vancouver's downtown East
Side, but it doesn't have a place in local schools, said
Kamloops-Thompson school district trustee Ken Christian.

Harm reduction, defined as reducing the negative health and social
consequences of drug use, should be integrated with the current
abstinence education children receive in schools, district drug and
alcohol prevention and intervention co-ordinator Angela Lawrence reported.

Lawrence indicated in the report school boards should acknowledge some
students will choose to do drugs and, while not condoning those
choices, work with the students to make sure they have the information
they need to make educated decisions.

Christian, however, disagreed.

"I'm really quite uncomfortable with the idea of harm reduction in
high school," he said.

Lawrence also suggested a shift from treating the student drug users
as criminals, to seeing them as victims and treating them with compassion.

Suspensions, which are generally given to students caught using drugs
or alcohol while at school, aren't always the answer, she said.

"Suspensions should be kept to a minimum with concurrent treatment
options available such as one-to-one counselling and family contact,"
she recommended. Trustee Kim Van Tine disagreed with Lawrence, stating
his belief that children respond to firm consequences.

"I really think children, teenagers, they understand consequences . . . we
need some short-term, in-your-face, bang, we-aren't-going-to-tolerate
this-kind-of-behaviour-anymore alternative.

"We aren't going far enough to deter this kind of behaviour through

Lawrence contended that while short-term suspensions prove effective
for some students, they often have little effect on students with
minimum support at home. "I'm not advocating fewer consequences, I
just think some of the consequences are not quite hitting the mark."

Superintendent Terry Sullivan told trustees there were plans in place
to have drug intervention and prevention pilot programs running in
several district schools as early as September.
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