Teachers in Wausau get lesson on drug dangers in the classroom
WAUSAU (WAOW) -
With new drugs hitting schools in central Wisconsin, teachers get a lesson in what to watch out for.
From electronic cigarettes to designer drugs, the list of dangers that could be entering the classroom is constantly changing.
"When it comes to that stuff you hear things like jokes that are made, and then just talking about parties things like that, alcohol,” said Patrick Meverden, a Newman Catholic High School history teacher.
Before students report back for class, teachers were the ones getting a lesson at the high school in Wausau. They spent Wednesday focusing on safety, learning how to spot different drugs and products not allowed in school like e-cigarettes.
"We've seen kids that have had them in school, we've had issues with that," said Meverden.
"I think kids have gotten the message that smoking is bad, but when you look at these e-cigarettes, they're promoted as a healthier alternative," said Melissa Dotter, the drug free communities program coordinator for Marathon County.
It's not just smoking. Experts say some teens get creative to hide what they're up to. New trends include putting marijuana in soda or taping bags of drugs to the back of quarters.
"You look at the latest drug trends, teens know about them before we do,” said Dotter. “You look at some of the new products the industries are putting out you know they're out there, and it's something we need to keep up on."
That's exactly what teachers did, such as learning about new slang they might hear in the hallways like “Molly” for MDMA, a type ecstasy.
"I think it's just our duty to use what the teens are using to stay ahead of us to try and catch up," said Dotter.
"It might help you understand a little more what kids are dealing with," said Meverden.
Marathon County health officials also hope it will help educate parents.
"If something's happening and you're seeing changes in your children you know personality changes, they don't hang out with the same group of friends, they're disobeying more, some of it is teen angst,” said Dotter. “But if it's something that continues to go on, ask the questions."
That's why classes like the one at the high school could be the answer to keeping drugs out of our schools.
"You always think things don't happen near you, things can't happen near you, but drugs are everywhere," said Meverden.
Police officers, counselors, and mental health experts all spoke at the school. They hope it gave teachers the tools they need to help keep students safe.