Wilansky said drug education should not be solely under the schools’ purview. “There is such pressure on schools with budgets and [the Common Core] curriculum that they can no longer take responsibility for these programs,” he said. “Schools are less able and are deflected. It is not the schools’ fault –– we all have to take responsibility.” Wilansky added that schools have also lost funding for art, music and physical education, programs that provide positive, creative outlets for students and keep many away from drugs, as they provide stress relief from the rigors of standardized testing.
Reynolds said there is little doubt that the increasing pressure that students are under to perform in school is making many susceptible to drugs. “When young people have more pressure to perform,” he said, “there are issues of anxiety and mental health. They tend to deal with the issue with the help of drugs. One in six kids is at risk of drug abuse, but no parent is willing to agree that their child could be at risk.”
Reynolds said he believes school districts must employ a greater number of “evidence-based” substance-abuse programs. One such youth program is Too Good for Drugs, a curriculum-based program that was launched in 1978 by the Georgia-based Mendez Foundation and that was introduced in Nassau by LICADD and the county in 2010.
And, Reynolds said, parents need to speak with their children about drugs.