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Loose drug laws headache for schools

Media Release

Loose drug laws headache for schools

New Zealand School Trustees Association is imploring politicians to stay firm on drug laws.

President Owen Edgerton says some schools already face a difficult battle with drug use among students, and decriminalisation of cannabis will simply make it a tougher battle to win.

“We are already seeing more and more students being suspended for drug use, and it’s a pretty safe bet to say that decriminalisation will simply add to the problem. It’s an extra worry schools don’t need.”

Last year 434 students were suspended over a period of 46 school days for being involved in drug related incidents. This made up 16% of the total number of suspensions over the same period. This compares with 1996 when 439 students were suspended for drug-related incidents over a period of 101 days, which was 9% of the total suspensions.

Owen Edgerton says trying to halt the rapid growth of drug use among young people was a problem which needed to be tackled by the whole community.

He says it is vital students, along with their parents, are fully aware that drugs slow their development, which impedes learning. Role models are important to impressionable young people, particularly during those critical informative years.

Trying to discourage students from using drugs is made more difficult when one MP publicly says he uses marijuana, while other MPs support the law changes.

“It trivialises the real dangers of young people using drugs. It is a big ask expecting teachers to get the best results out of students who are using drugs. These kids should be making the most of the opportunities during their schools years, not throwing them away.”

Owen Edgerton says if MPs vote to decriminalise it, they should also think carefully about how they are going to help schools cope with the added pressure.

“Schools are already expected to act as social welfare agencies, and perhaps MPs need to ask themselves if schools aren’t already faced with enough problems. That said, if MPs go ahead with a change, they should make sure those affected by the change are catered for.

“For starters, schools would need more resources to deal with the increased pressure, which of course will cost money.”

[ends]

For more information contact Owen Edgerton 025 441 397


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