December 2020 - Page 12



Photomontage : JellyPics

Give our kids accurate information about drugs , both pros and cons , and let them make up their own minds about drugs .’ That was the mantra re drugs education for young people in the 1990s , right ?

Here we are in 2020 , undergoing the most stressful time the UK has seen with a right wing and apparently incompetent government , and the legislation is such that our children can now be temporarily excluded for the mere possession of tobacco , never mind anything illegal .
What on earth has happened in these 27 years ? With the Golden Age of Harm Reduction behind us and a conservative version of it embedded in our corporate drug services , kids are regularly being searched at school . In one London school – and the legislation allows it – three 13-year-olds had their bags searched recently . Indeed , they were taken out of their classes and marched to the deputy head who searched their property in front of them . They happen to be kids I know : smart lovable and cheeky ones
Treating our children like you would a suspected criminal at a
Treating school children like criminals is not a sensible or constructive approach to drugs education , says Andria Efthimiou-Mourdant
police station is not acceptable . They have been through enough this year . But what can we actually do , when the legislation allows schools to carry on like this ?
Here ’ s something to consider – the children concerned are already becoming defiant , angry and rebellious . ‘ They should be at that age ,’ I hear you say . Rebellious and adventurous , yes . Furious and defiant has the danger of wrecking their time in school and , ultimately , their mental health . Indeed , one of the girls is complaining of ‘ causeless ’ anxiety .
I dared to mention some of this in a meeting where a school governor was present and complained that the only thing the teachers seem to care about is high grades and results . Even the kids are dangerously aware of that , so their self-worth is diminished .
If you ’ re still reading this , I ’ m guessing you ’ re the parent , carer or guardian of adolescents in the UK , so let ’ s do something about this . There must be something we can do to stop the relentless , soul-destroying drug war from destroying our own children . Hundreds of us could write to our MPs and local education authorities
‘ With the Golden Age of Harm Reduction behind us and a conservative version of it embedded in our corporate drug services , kids are regularly being searched at school .’
and ask them if they have thought about the impact of treating our children like mini criminals before they even have a chance to learn . Thousands of young people explore some drugs and thankfully , the vast majority do not end up with drug problems . But if you are a vulnerable child in these circumstances you will turn increasingly to drugs as you lose faith in the ‘ trusted adults ’ around you .
Our kids deserve care and understanding if and when they begin to explore things that can be dangerous – not sniffer dogs or searches . Whenever I was leaving the US from drug policy reform conferences , fellow reformers would say to me , ‘ Andria , tell your people not to look west for drug policy or education .’ How ashamed do I now feel , watching the UK slowly become the close cousin in the drug war . Indeed , some parts of the US are a lorryload more progressive than we are now
All I – and I think , all – child carers want is for our kids to be safe , happy and well .
My poor mum didn ’ t have a clue what to do . She certainly did not know drugs , though she did love me , and one day asked , ‘ If I give you 50p , will you get me one of those LSDs ?’ Her way of saying I accept you , no matter what . And I truly believe that is why I am still alive today , having survived heroin addiction and two viral strains of hep . Ultimately , I knew I was cared for .
The schools will say , ‘ We need to stamp it out before it spreads .’ Unlike COVID-19 , drug use is not transmissible , but it does thrive in punishing environments . If you are a guardian , parent , and wish to get talking about how we educate and care for our kids , please email me at andriae4 @ gmail . com
Andria Efthimiou-Mourdant is a health campaigner and activist