The Superintendent of the Hanover School Division says the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) counseling service provided on-site is essential and counseled 68 students on an ongoing basis last year.
Superintendent Randy Dueck says the AFM service is essential because of the students who come to rely on drugs and alcohol in any shape or form. He adds it's too bad it's essential, it would be great if relying on drugs or alcohol wasn't a reality. Two months ago Steinbach RCMP Staff Sergeant Harold Laninga told us the three biggest drug issues in Steinbach were meth, marijuana, and crack cocaine.
Dueck says, "It's been essential for us to be able to provide this service, not only for our students but for our parents. Daniel [Dacombe] (AFM counselor) also does that kind of work, workshops, for our parents, for our principals, and our teachers. He serves us in the position of keeping us all really informed of the situation as it is right now and includes keeping the students informed, and helping students through the challenges we face."
He notes having Dacombe on-site ensures students are having available access to high-quality information and openly acknowledges that there are serious issues surrounding drugs that are impacting the students in the division.
"We will continue to work very proactively towards dealing with those issues."
Dueck says he's not sure how much the pending legalization of marijuana will change the current policies or issues.
"It's still illegal to have access to and have cannabis with you and to be smoking cannabis or taking cannabis in any way, shape, or form under the age of 19. So, that pretty much captures all of our students. We're going to have to keep an eye on this and see what the impact will be."
He adds cannabis will be treated very much like the division currently treats alcohol, and he says there is no place for alcohol in the schools of the division.
Dueck says there are three specific areas the division relies on including, "good education, good partnerships, and good vigilance."
In terms of good education, he notes there is the DARE program, drugs and alcohol are talked about in the regular health curriculum, and there are counselors in all of the schools who can reference these issues along with the counseling services of Dacombe. Good partnerships, Dueck notes the schools themselves are a good partnership along with the RCMP and the Headway program. In terms of good vigilance, he says it looks like paying attention, being attentive, noticing when students aren't quite right, and addressing the issues.