By Kaitlyn Bell
As young teenagers enter high school, they will face a lot of new challenges and struggles. While making their way through high school, students are at their most impressionable state in life, which can leave them susceptible to a lot of distractions.
One of the most dangerous distractions is drugs and alcohol, which has plagued high schools and their administrators for years. Exposure to drugs is common, both inside and outside of school environments, and the path to combating this is extremely difficult. This raises the question: how can schools stop the spread of drugs inside their walls?
The drug epidemic hits youth at a very young age, with a National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) study showing that in regards to teens ages 14 to 19, at least 50% have misused drugs at least once in their life. Even if a student isn’t in that 50%, studies also show that there is a good chance they know someone who smokes or uses drugs themselves.
Recently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) confirmed the issue to be ongoing. Even looking back through the past couple of decades, there has been significant change to the way drug abuse is acknowledged and prevented. In the 1980s and 1990s, as the war on drugs was on the rise, the introduction of cocaine turned youth drug abuse to a scary and unforeseen level. The 80s and the expansion of drugs into suburban communities and schools led to new education on drug use, promoting campaigns such as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).
Now, especially in the past couple of years, there have been many different issues with in-school drug use. While there have always been youth targeted drug ads, considering that the youth may be more vulnerable to buy into the dangerous and rich business that is the drug industry, vaping has made this much more prominent. According to the CDC, the effects of vaping and nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm the development of the adolescent brain. Specifically targeted at younger audiences, many e-cigarette companies create a variety of flavors for their products.
A 2014 study showed that most youth who use e-cigarettes first try a flavored cigarette. It also showed that flavors are the most common reason for an adolescent to use e-cigarettes.
While there are many more recent issues in youth drug abuse such as the legalization of marijuana, access to tobacco products and the opioid epidemic, there has always been a common trend in the effects of and reasons for students' drug abuse. This includes how drug use affects a student's GPA, fitness level and other behaviors, as well as what makes them use drugs, which is commonly peer pressure or outside forces.
Source by Kristen Schneider
Pictured above is Coach Dolan, an avid member in the fight to keep NHP drug-free.
Recently, a drug incident occurred at New Hyde Park Memorial involving two senior high students. They became ill after ingesting edibles and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. These students allegedly purchased the drugs from another NHP student.
It is clear that New Hyde Park is not immune to this issue. The incident has sparked discussion about how to address and combat this delicate topic.
"Drugs in school, whether it's in physical education or in sports are definitely going to decline their ability to play and their health is at risk," physical education teacher and coach Mr. Rotondaro said. "Obviously whatever it is, in school or out of school, kids will be affected. I know drugs are around, they're in the neighborhood but I wouldn't say they are a widespread danger here at New Hyde Park though."
“We’re combating it. The Sewanhaka School District and New Hyde Park High School are combating it aggressively, just like we always have,” dean of students Mr. Dolan said. “In our seventh and 10th grade health classes, we spend a lot of time addressing this issue. Occasionally the school district will sponsor student presentations. Outside voices are always very effective instead of listening to Coach Dolan drone on and on as usual.”