Towards the end of last term, we had a week-long visit from John Tummon who works with Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), a not-for-profit organisation based in the United States who guide schools around the world to support drugs education.
During his visit, John spent time with students in Years 9 and above talking about the issues, the science and the data behind drugs, and particularly alcohol use. Feedback from students has been very positive and our older students in particular feel that they are more able to cope with the challenges they face now, and as they move into the next phase of their education at university.
There were a number of points to his message for both parents and students:
Alcohol is the key entry point for any student, wherever they are in the world
- Alcohol is readily available to many of our students despite the fact that the minimum age to purchase alcohol in Malaysia is currently 18, and will rise to 21 on 1st December 2017.
- Some parents allow varying use of alcohol in the home setting.
Delaying use of alcohol has a marked positive impact in terms of living a healthy life
- If students can delay the use of alcohol until 18 or even 21, it has a marked impact on the brain’s development and on the individual’s perceived need for alcohol.
Perception of use is always far greater than actual use
- Children will regularly suggest that “all my friends do… “ as part of their leverage to allow you to stretch your boundaries.
- In terms of alcohol, the reality is that very few students do drink alcohol regularly.
FCD’s work is data-driven and looks primarily at living healthy lives; you can access a whole range of this data by clicking on this link.
Do also take a look at the slides we used for the parent workshop which was held on Wednesday 22nd March. Of particular interest may be the last few slides which show feedback from parents who attended - both in terms of issues that they felt were a high priority and also some solutions.
I would like to reinforce two additional point:
- Get to know other parents to understand their standards and values. Children do want to gain independence from parents (this is, almost by definition, part of growing up) and part of that independence is spending time with their peers away from adults. If you are able to make connections with the parents of your children’s friends, you will be able to ascertain how closely their values align with your own. You’ll also have a mobile number which you can justifiably use to check arrangements beforehand.
- The concept of a ‘safe message’ that your child can send to you when she or he is feeling in a pressured situation, is a great idea. Essentially, you and they agree beforehand on a code - for example “Having a blast”. If your child sends that message to you, you can call them in a few minutes to say there’s a family emergency and they need to leave, or you can come and pick them up. This means the child can extricate themselves from a situation without losing face amongst their friends.
If your child is in Year 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13. please do talk to them about their time with John. And whatever year your child is in, get in touch with their friends’ parents before you feel it is necessary.
As ever, please get in touch with anyone in the Pastoral leadership team at school if you have any specific questions.
Vice Principal (Our Students)
Click here for this week's full issue - 28th April 2017