The crisis that needs our urgent attention – More and more Primary school age children are becoming addicted to drugs, with the numbers reaching ‘crisis point’.
Disturbing new figures released by Victoria Police show children as young as 10 are overdosing on methamphetamine, while hundreds more are addicted to illicit drugs, shares Daily Mail.
In 2016 alone police investigated 166 children for drug offences, with the scourge of drugs such as ice now so widespread the head of the Salvation Army says it should be considered a ‘crisis’.
‘There is no question it is a growing problem… in fact we would say it is a crisis,’ Mr Nottle told the Today Show.
‘That’s what we are seeing in the streets of our city and out in the suburbs and rural areas… it’s time the government and community sits up and takes notice.’
The state has struggled with the rise in child drug addiction, with many youths being forced to seek treatment at adult or inappropriate detox clinics.
But according to Mr Nottle, while many people believe police and government need to do more to stop the scourge, the most important steps can be taken at home.
‘We are seeing a significant dislocation among young people from family and from sporting groups and youth groups,’ he said.
‘There has been significant research that indicates young people are saying they just need the interest of one significant person who is safe… to turn their life around.’
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The message we need to teach our children
It is important that parents talk to their children openly about the dangers of drugs and why they should be careful when someone offers them something that looks suspicious.
As the National Drugs Campaign recommends, “one of the most effective deterrents to drug use among young people is a parent who wants to spend time with them – someone who talks with them about their friends, what goes on at school, the sport they play and what interests them.”
The more parents and other family members get involved in children’s lives, the more positive young people will feel about themselves and the more likely they will be to respond favourably to their family’s views.
Here are 10 ways to encourage your kids to talk about drugs with you via Dept of Health.
1.Be an active part of their lives
Make sure you set aside time to spend with your kids. Take an interest in their interests and establish a routine for doing things with them. Spending time as a family is important, like eating together every day. When they go out, don’t be afraid to ask where they’re going or who they’ll be with.
2.Listen to your kids
Showing that you’re prepared and willing to listen will help your kids feel more comfortable about listening to you. During a conversation try not to interrupt them or react in a way that will stop whatever you’re discussing. Encourage them to feel comfortable about telling you their problems, and ask for their input on family decisions to show that you value their opinions.
3.Be a role model
When it comes to drugs there’s no such thing as ‘do as I say, not as I do’. If you take drugs yourself you can’t expect your kids to take your advice. It’s important not to underestimate the influence your behaviour has on them, particularly when it comes to alcohol or tobacco, or misuse of medications.
4.Be honest with them
It’s natural that you won’t necessarily know everything about drugs. So while it’s important to be informed, you shouldn’t pretend to have answers to every question. Be prepared to say ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out for you’. If you’re honest and clear about where you stand, your kids will find it easier to be honest with you.
5.Pick your moment
Make sure you pick the right time to discuss drugs with your kids, by looking for natural opportunities as they arise. This might be when you’re all watching TV, or when they’re talking about someone at their school or in their friendship group.
When it comes to talking about drugs, being calm and rational is important, as well as not overreacting. Make sure not to ridicule or lecture, as this could make future discussions about drugs more difficult and make your kids more resistant to talking about them at all.
It is difficult to solve a problem where there’s a conflict. Try to see their point of view while encouraging them to understand yours. If a confrontation does develop, stop the conversation and come back to it when you’re both calmer.
Once you’ve had a discussion about drugs it’s important to have another. Start talking to your kids about drugs early, and be willing to talk to your kids about the issue at any time.
9.Set clear boundaries
Generally kids expect and appreciate some ground rules. By actively involving them in setting the rules you can encourage them to take more responsibility for sticking to them. Once you’ve decided on these rules, enforce them, and let your kids know the consequences of breaking them.
Discuss and agree to ways your kids will act if they find themselves in situations where drugs are present. For example, let them know that you’ll always collect them if they need you to, whatever the hour.
However, make it absolutely clear that you would rather they didn’t put themselves in a situation where they are likely to be exposed to drugs in the first place.
10.Focus on positives
Be sure to reward your kids’ good behaviour and emphasise the things they do well. Encourage them to feel good about themselves and let them know that they deserve respect and should also respect themselves.
Find more helpful advice on speaking to children about drug use HERE.
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