Senator Anthony Bucco’s (R-25) legislation to establish a grant program that school districts would use to implement a substance abuse prevention program for eighth graders passed the Senate Education Committee.
Sen. Anthony Bucco’s legislation to establish a grant program that school districts would use to implement a substance abuse prevention program for eighth graders passed the Senate Education Committee. (Flickr)
“So many kids are now experimenting with drugs before they even reach high school,” said Bucco. “Juvenile substance abuse can easily turn into a full blown addiction, interfere with brain development, and lead kids with promising futures down a dangerous pathway to prison or worse – an early grave. Taking precautionary measures to prevent and protect kids from abusing drugs and alcohol will save lives.”
Bucco’s bill, S-85, would take a two-faceted approach to curtail adolescent drug and alcohol use, by educating eighth grade students, as well as their parents and faculty members on the dangers of substance abuse.
The faculty and parent education component would consist of workshops and sessions designed to raise awareness of teen drug abuse. It would also empower educators and parents with the knowledge and skills needed to help reduce the risk of children developing substance abuse problems.
The student education component is divided into four segments.
First, the eighth graders would meet with teenage residents of drug rehabilitation programs who would discuss their personal experience with drug and alcohol abuse.
Next, an individual who has firsthand dealt with a family member’s substance abuse would address the students.
Third, minimum custody offenders from a correctional facility would discuss their crimes involving drugs and alcohol, as well as their sentencing time.
Finally, a person with celebrity status, as a positive role model, would speak with the students to present an anti-drug and alcohol message.
School districts that wish to participate in the grant program would be required to submit an application to the Commissioner of Education. Said applications must certify a district’s budget includes monies for the purpose of financing a substance abuse prevention program for eighth grade students. Theses monies may include district funds, federal funds, or funds raised through individual, corporate, or private sector donations. The commissioner would provide a grant to each selected school district in the amount he or she determines.
The drug abuse program is modeled after “Project Positive Choice,” a successful drug and alcohol education prevention program that has been part of the eighth grade curriculum at the Copeland Middle School in Rockaway Township for more than two decades.
According to Advance Recovery Systems, one-third of middle school students keep, use, or sell drugs in school.
“The earlier we educate our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, the better we can prevent substance abuse,” Bucco added. “Enacting this legislation will reduce crime, leading to higher graduation rates, more college acceptance letters, and better job opportunities. Let’s ensure students, parents, and educators can tackle this growing problem sooner rather than later.”
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