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News 2014 � September

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Training for teachers on prevention of subtance abuse among school childen

By Dr. Susan Mathew
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Mumbai, Sep. 20. A half day training programme for teachers in identification and prevention of substance abuse among school children was organized by Don Bosco Research Centre (DBRC) and Wamanrao Muranjan school, Mulund in the school hall on September 13, 2014. The workshop was attended by twenty teachers of the secondary section and junior college and some teachers from the neighbouring schools.
Mr. Chaskar, the Principal of the school, welcomed the participants and then Dr.Susan Mathew briefly  introduced Don Bosco Research Centre and its activities to them. The first session on 'Substance Abuse Prevention' was conducted by Mr. SwapnilPange, psychologist and Counsellor at TISS. Talking about risk and prevention, Swapnil pointed out that a person's curiosity to experience drugs, to be part of the group, and the notion that one could work faster if he/she experiences the effect of drugs were some of the driving forces for substance abuse. He said that professionals, doctors, and families were essential for identification and prevention of substance abuse in children, which they could do through monitoring and regular follow ups of child's behaviour.

During the worskhop the teachers were made to understand that skills building, open dialogues with children, debates, forums, discussions on substance abuse, etc. were some of the preventive measures that could be undertaken at the school level. It would be also necessary for the teachers to acquire life skills such as, enabling the child to think critically and constructively, problem solving, dealing with empathy, awareness and coping with negative emotions. At family level, it would be necessary to improve conflict resolution skills, improving dialogue in families and helping parents to develop effective parenting skills to deal with the issue.

Talking on the 'Role of Teachers in Prevention of Substance Abuse in Schools', the second resource person Ms. Mayuri Jain who  works at the rehabilitation centre, KEM hospital, explained the prevailing situation among children based on the latest research findings. She pointed out that among children from class VIII-XII, sixty percent try out substance abuse at some point of time, more so among urban male students coming from nuclear families. Aggressive behaviour, drop in academic performance, withdrawal from teachers and peers, absenteeism and socially inappropriate behaviours were some of the common symptoms displayed by children who have gotten into substance abuse. However, she warned, that noting such symptoms would not necessarily always mean incidents of substance abuse.

It is the responsibility of teachers to be sensitive in order to identify such symptoms and to go beyond what meet their eyes in order to draw a correct conclusion. Risk factors such as family history, trauma, rejection by peers, and lack of skills could trigger substance addiction. Teachers were not only to identify symptoms but they also needed to enhance protective factors as a preventive mechanism. Protective factors that could help were self esteem, resilience, communications skills, decision making, stress management etc. They factores are to be given utmost importance at school, she said.

A school should take initiative to enforce clear rules for parental involvement, to provide supportive or nurturing environment, alternatives for recreation, youth activities, parental involvement etc. As a teacher it is essential that the teacher build a personal rapport with children so that they confide in him/her if they had personal problems.

The programme concluded with a post-workshop evaluation to gauge the impact of the training.
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