Drug culture in our schools

NORTH Coast students as young as 12 are using drugs and schools are being locked down because of violent schoolyard brawls.

Disturbingly, more students were found carrying drugs on the North Coast than anywhere else in the state in Term Three last year.

This insight into our schools comes from incident reports provided to The Northern Star by the Department of Education following a Freedom of Information request.

Even more disturbing is that school communities are unaware of the widespread problems because of privacy concerns.

The report revealed school children as young as 12 were found smoking cannabis.

In another incident, a Year 9 boy sold ecstasy to three girls at a school who were later found by the principal hiding in the toilet block after taking the drugs.

In yet another case, a Year 4 student assaulted two teachers and two fellow students at a Northern Rivers primary school last year, leaving one teacher with a hamartoma requiring medical attention.

And late last year, two Tweed Shire schools were placed in lockdown after a former student chased two Year 8 males down the street with a machete.

Another school was placed in lockdown when police had to handcuff a drug-affected student and escorted them off the grounds.

A dismayed Richmond Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Greg Moore said there was a high tolerance for drugs in the Northern Rivers community.

“That is carrying over to the kids and a lot of students are getting their values at home. Parents may display a tolerant attitude to drugs and that can naturally carry over,” he said.

A DET spokesman said the Privacy Act prevented it informing school communities about incidences of drug and violence.

“Parents of students will be notified about any disciplinary action or police involvement,” he said.

“Principals may include general information about an incident in their newsletter to remind the community that violence and drugs are not tolerated in our schools.”

Students involved in violence or drugs were suspended and police notified, the DET spokesman said.

Upper Sub-Regional P&C Council president Lyn Swaddle does not expect to be notified every time an incident occurs.

“I don’t think it would help anyone to know when those things happen but it would certainly be something to be spoken about or explained if asked,” she said.

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