New Haven afterschool program aims to talk openly about drug use and other topics with students

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven Public Schools are beginning to educate students about substance abuse prevention in kindergarten. Until they graduate, students learn why drugs are bad for you. But some say that is not enough.

Raymond Jackson works for City Hall but in his spare time he volunteers with the LEAD program at the King/Robinson Magnet School. He speaks to the children about what they experience on a daily basis. He was shocked to hear some of the things the children saw, some as young as 12.

“You can’t sugarcoat anything anymore. They’ll tell you something you’re surprised to hear coming out of a 12 or 13 year old. When they talk to you, they’re sharing their knowledge of drugs, they’ve seen someone get shot, or they’ve handled a gun,” Jackson said. “You would be surprised if 17 and 18 year olds are pulling needles now. That’s not what I want for a child.

On Thursday, a student from James Hillhouse High School brought edibles to school and shared them with four other students. These children fell ill and were taken to hospital. The district believes the edibles have been impregnated with an illegal substance.

Jackson fears that students will be exposed to drugs more often as pot products become more accessible.

“If something happens in the street at night, I feel guilty. I feel guilty in my heart. I may not even know the kid, but it hurts me.

He said students need programs where they can talk freely about the challenges they face without judgment. Mentoring, in addition to the education they receive in schools, will help keep children on track.

The NHPS Health Education in Drug and Drug Prevention curriculum is taught from kindergarten through 12th grade.

K-6 students learn content and skills to understand prescription and over-the-counter medications, household products that can be dangerous, avoid poisons, harmful chemicals in tobacco, and apply skills to avoid second-hand smoke.

At the 7th and 8th grade levels, students learn about the dangers of drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and the use of steroids. The misuse of over-the-counter, prescription, and sports supplements is also explored. The college also explores addiction, substance abuse, internal and external influences, and social norms. Grades 7 and 8 students learn to classify stimulants and depressants and practice refusal techniques.

Students in grades 9-12 see their health-related skills enhanced by understanding the short- and long-term effects of drug use.

New Haven Public Schools have resources and information for students and their families who may be struggling with substance abuse.