Children are becoming extremely crafty in their efforts to sneak illegal drugs and alcohol into the school system and in some cases, they have even managed to distort the results of drug testing.
According to President of the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors Margaret Grant, drug abuse among the society’s youngest continues to manifest itself in “unexplained aggression” and poor performances in school.
“Our children are learning how to camouflage drug testing results, they are learning how to stash substances in their school bag handles, pen barrels and sharpeners,” said Grant, who warned that the problem could badly affect public health, security and economic productivity.
While addressing the opening of a drug education workshop for guidance counsellors hosted by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) at the organisation’s Belleville, St Michael headquarters she explained: “Sometimes students are being caught. Within the schools particularly coming onto the end of term, they might think that surveillance is low and might tend to bring alcohol in drinks and bring . . . . So teachers need to be extremely vigilant even when there are class parties.”
The guidance counsellor added that despite the propensity for some students to tamper with drug testing results, troubling changes in behaviour are being exhibited.
“They can mask it so well, but sometimes when we see unexplained aggression among our children, that is a hint that they might be on drugs. Children slacking off in school and their attitudes changing dramatically and drastically, sometimes their interests in life start to change, their choice of friends start to change and they start to take on a completely different persona,” Grant told Barbados TODAY after the opening ceremony.
Her warning comes just months after NCSA Chairman Hadford Howell revealed that children as young as eight have abused either alcohol or illegal drugs.
The Guidance Counsellors Association president also pledged to continue working with the NCSA’s Drug Education Programmes, the police’s DARE programme, and other effective interventions.
During her brief remarks, NCSA Manager Betty Hunte explained that the workshop would equip the country’s counsellors with the tools necessary to identify young substance abusers, those at risk and children living in households where drugs and/or alcohol are abused.