HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drugs Sold In Local High Schools
Pubdate: Fri, 18 Nov 2005
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Bookmark: (Youth)


Police Say The Problem Is So Big They Can't Keep Up

Forget smokin' in the boys room.

Police now send drug-sniffing dogs and undercover officers into your
children's schools as young pushers peddle marijuana, crack, cocaine
and ecstasy to fellow students.

"We've done busts in the past year of entire families where we've had
ma and pa packing lunch bags with sandwiches and dope in it so the
kids can sell it at school," said Det. Sgt. Dean Steinke of the
Kawartha Combined Forces Drug Unit. "That's not uncommon."

Both city and provincial police say the problem in Peterborough and
area with drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, is so big they can't
keep up.

According to the 2003 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey, about 30 per
cent of students reported using marijuana.

That's about 286,000 students between Grade 7 and 12.

"Cannabis shows strong increases with grade, increasing from six per
cent among seventh graders to 45 per cent among 11th and 12th
graders," the study said.

The survey found children start using alcohol at the average age of 12
and get onto marijuana a year later.

Three per cent of Grade 7 pupils had used cocaine, the study stated,
and 18 per cent of students may have a drug problem.

No one knows what kind of drugs are in Peterborough better than local
high school student Chloe (not her real name).

She's been drunk, smoked marijuana, snorted cocaine and dropped

She estimated she spent $1,700 on cocaine last summer.

"All my friends do it, and it's not just marijuana," she

"In the summer, I had a friend who spent so much money on cocaine. I
didn't even think it was a problem until I realized I was in Grade 12.
You usually think it's 30-year-old bums who live in their parents'
basement. There are Grade 9s that go smoke weed at lunch."

Oles Gontcharov, 17, a Grade 12 Holy Cross Secondary student, said
he's never used illegal drugs. But that's not because there was never
an opportunity.

"All these younger kids are coming in already fully into this kind of
stuff," Gontcharov said. "If somebody knew about this back in the day
they'd be pretty much outcasts. Everyone is so cool with it now. It's
just the thing to do."

Catholic board education director John Mackle said the problem is
present across his entire board.

"That reality is definitely in our secondary schools," he said. "That
ongoing education piece, we believe, is extremely important to be a
part of."

Maureen Moloney, student achievement superintendent at the Kawartha
Pine Ridge District School Board, said her board has the same worries.

"Drugs are a societal issue," she said.

"As long as we've had a concern with drugs in society, we've had a
concern with drugs with school-aged students. Our schools don't
operate in a bubble separate from society."

But Education Minister Gerard Kennedy said schools are required to
report every drug incident they encounter to the province, and the
number of those incidents across Ontario doesn't seem to be increasing.

"We don't have an overall picture of it getting worse," Kennedy said.
"That doesn't mean we don't have hot spots. It's something we know is
taking place in some of the schools. Every board is challenged to come
up with prevention and deterrence."

Dr. Bob Neville, a family doctor who took up the anti-drug cause after
learning many of his young patients were experimenting, said there are
actually drug dealers working inside schools.

His patients, some as young as Grade 7, have experimented with a host
of drugs including ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine, he said.

"You have in some schools four or five pushers per high school,"
Neville said.

"And there are primary schools which are reported to have young
pushers there as well. It's been reported that some students are
making $1,400 a day from drug sales."

And the lunch money you give your kids is enough to get them high, he

A line of cocaine is about $8, Neville said.

"For $8 you can get very high," he said.

A gram of marijuana runs about $10 in Peterborough, he

"That would mean $3 or $4 for a joint of marijuana, which the two
toonies you sent your kid to school with for lunch would pay for,"
Neville said. "The prices of these things are cheaper than alcohol."

It's also easier to get than booze, he said.

"If you're under 19, they don't come to the high schools selling
alcohol," Neville said.

"It's too cumbersome to carry around a whole bunch of alcohol. But
it's easy to carry around a lot of packages with small quantities of
drugs in them."

Steinke said going undercover at school is something police do, but he
wouldn't elaborate any further.

"We use all different techniques for drug enforcement," he said. "It
goes from surveillance to undercover operations to wire taps. It all
depends on what the requirements are for that investigation. Let the
people guess."

City police also wouldn't say much about it.

"We don't have to make it any secret we take drugs in the vicinity of
schools and on school property as seriously as the school boards,"
said Staff Sgt. Steve Streeter. "We'll use any number of investigative
techniques to enforce the drug laws in the area of schools."

The school boards are letting police do their thing.

"We have canine searches through the schools," Moloney said. "Whatever
strategies they recommend at any given time we certainly work closely
with them to try to address the issue."

Kennedy said the province does have a zero tolerance policy. But that
doesn't necessarily mean a student caught with drugs will be suspended.

"There is room for the principal to interpret," the education minister
said. "But they are required to do something."

Both school boards also work with organizations such as Four Counties
Addiction Services Team (FourCast) to provide education and

Since 1996, FourCast has had on-site counselling services at Holy
Cross, St. Peter's and Crestwood high schools.

"Lots of kids are having problems at school related to the use of
alcohol and drugs," said executive director Donna Rogers. "We continue
to see an increase in need for us to be in the schools."

Chloe, the high school student, said it leads to bad

"I see friends go through it and I just think if we had somebody
telling us not to do it, then we wouldn't be where we are right now,"
she said.

"It's so hopeless. You look at the Grade 12s that graduated last year
and I could probably name 15 kids right now that aren't going anywhere
with their lives because of drugs and alcohol."

Chloe said she almost became one of those people, but a drug awareness
program at school opened her eyes. She said she last used drugs near
the end of summer vacation.

"In Grade 9 my marks were good," she said.

"In Grade 10 they were OK. In Grade 11 I skipped so many classes to go
smoke weed. Now university is next year and I'm trying to do really
well. I'm noticing I can do it and I'm capable, but I'd probably be
more capable if I didn't fry so many brain cells. It really does take
a toll on your body."

Neville said most parents don't have a clue what's going

"Adults, who are supposed to be giving advice and counselling, we are
not getting educated," Neville said. An education effort similar to
anti-smoking campaigns is necessary, he said.

"For the last five to 10 years in this town and in the province we've
done a very strong effort to make people aware of health hazards of
smoking," Neville said.

"We haven't had the same resources put into it."

Gontcharov's father Oleg admitted he had no idea what his son faces at

"I suppose there are a lot of drugs, but I don't know how much," Oleg

"We are very close to each other. I think my son isn't involved in
this stuff."

Neville said there are some parents aware of drugs in schools, but
many don't think it's a big deal because they smoked pot as teenagers.

"Part of the trouble with parents is they look back into the days of
the '70s when some of them may have been using marijuana," he said.

Neville said back then the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- -- the stuff that gets you high -- was only about three per cent in
each joint.

With modern growing operations and fertilizers, he said the potency
can now range from 18 to 24 per cent.

"We've seen as high as 30 per cent in the city," Neville

"Parents would think, when they smoked marijuana, of what the feeling
would be from smoking one joint. But they should understand what it
would be like putting eight joints in their mouth."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin