Kids need help to avoid drugs
Many parents will be shocked to learn that a 14-year-old pupil has been suspended from a Bangor school for distributing illegal drugs. Drugs are the last thing most would imagine a child of that age would be carrying in his schoolbag.
What it does demonstrate is the ubiquitous nature of drug use in modern society. It does not seem that long ago that the only contraband to circulate among secondary level pupils was cigarettes.
Now it seems that illegal drugs are available practically everywhere.
At the end of last year a number of schools in the Bangor area alerted parents that some pupils had been approached at the town's bus station by older youths and offered drugs.
The staff at the school involved in this latest incident deserve credit for uncovering the pupil's activities and for acting promptly. But keeping a eye out for illegal drug use is not what teachers are trained for. Their job is to educate their pupils, not act as some sort of police force.
Perhaps this will make parents monitor their children's behaviour more closely. Are they displaying a change of character or other symptoms which might suggest the use of illegal substances? Who are their friends, and are they aware of the dangers of drugs?
Today, drugs are part of popular culture - as well as available on a street corner near you - and many impressionable teenagers may be seduced by the supposed glamour of that lifestyle.
However, they must also be made aware that drug abuse can have fatal consequences. They only have to remember the sad death of many rock and movie idols who died far too young.
Adolescents will always be curious and parents should be candid with them on the problems they may encounter and the people who may lead them astray.
Generations of schoolchildren remember how they often ignored the best advice of parents, but now more than ever youngsters should feel able to discuss any problems that can arise.
Parents must reciprocate, not in a heavy-handed way, but by giving their children the advice and information that will enable them to make sensible decisions about their lifestyles. When drugs start appearing in the classroom, it is evident that there is a serious problem in society. Children need support to combat this danger.