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Eight-year olds Busted For Drugs

Eight-year olds Busted For Drugs

Friday 17 May 2002 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Primary & Secondary Education

For the first time, children as young as eight have been busted in the playground with drugs, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"Analysis of the Ministry of Education's Suspension and Stand down Report for 2001 reveals that serious drug problems in primary schools increased five-fold between 2000 and 2001.

"In 2000, `less than five' suspensions were made by primary schools for drug offences. Last year, there were at least twenty-two, including 14 ten-year-olds, seven nine-year-olds and 'less than five' eight-year-olds. (The Ministry of Education uses the figure 'less than five' where there is a risk of identifying children.)

"In one South Island primary school last year, staff had to take a young boy to hospital because he had smoked marijuana until he was "zonked out" to the point of unconsciousness.

"It is absolutely criminal that the Government has not introduced a single initiative to reduce the incidence of drug selling and smoking in the playground. Drugs and substance abuse was the most frequent reason for suspension last year - there were 1,555 cases representing 32 percent of suspensions.

"The compulsory Health curriculum, intended to teach our kids to make sensible decisions concerning drugs, sex and alcohol, is obviously not working.

"We need to dump the `one size fits all' curriculum, which has failed miserably. School principals and trustees need the resources and freedom to make their own decisions to respond to the drug problem. We've tried doing it the bureaucrat's way, and the suffering of our youngest children shows that way just doesn't work," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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