The Schools We Need- Coping with Substance Abuse, Shepherding Students

4489997995_b45a8c3836_zaddictionWhat happens when a child is caught at school high or drunk—they are suspended, they do it multiple times they are expelled.  If they ask for help from school staff, their parents are called.  If they could talk to their parents they already would have.  And if you are student in recovery, where do you go, how do you avoid relapses?

These are the real problems children and schools are facing and thankfully we are starting to move away from punishment and towards support.  One of my NY schools hosted actress Kristen Johnston (Third Rock from the Sun) yesterday and we launched a program to realistically support students facing substance abuse or addiction.

According to studies 12% of high schoolers meet the clinical definition of addiction, and this is higher is specific communities.  Yesterday we addressed the school community in honestly addressing these problems and creating supports at the school.  Some excerpts below,

“We’ve gotten real good at getting out the message to kids about the dangers of substance abuse, we haven’t done near a good enough job at working with kids who don’t heed the warnings,” explained Dr. Ken Byalin, the President of Lavelle Prep and New Ventures Charter Schools.

In August, Johnston’s non-profit, Sobriety, Learning and Motivation or SLAM, launched a recovery program at Lavelle Prep for students struggling with addiction–the first of its kind in New York City.

“Basically, it’s a non-punishment scenario. And we just want to present people with the option that there’s some place for you to go,” said Johnston.

“We are instituting programs to educate the teachers and make them aware of some of the issues that are likely already going on in their classroom,” added Thomas Krauss, the Co-Founder of SLAM.

Organizers hope that the program can eventually become a model for schools across the country.

“Young people are in schools more than they are anyplace else, it’s really up to the schools, we think to figure out a way to be supportive of kids who are struggling with recovery,” said Dr. Byalin.”
Believe me Oakland, Staten Island is not unique in having these needs, what are we going to do about it.  If we are looking there are models out there.

What do you think?

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