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Educating pupils on the dangers of taking drugs

PUBLISHED: 13:16 15 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 07 September 2010

KIDS and parents will come face to face with the issue of drugs at Hampstead School this month. The Westbere Road secondary has lined up a week of events to mark National Tackling Drugs Week from May 19 to May 23

Ben McPartland

KIDS and parents will come face to face with the issue of drugs at Hampstead School this month.

The Westbere Road secondary has lined up a week of events to mark National Tackling Drugs Week from May 19 to May 23.

Throughout the week both pupils and their parents will be taught about the dangers of drugs and how to avoid them.

Organising the events is Hampstead's new safer schools officer PC Anna Lovell.

"I introduced the idea of doing something to mark the week and the school has jumped aboard," she said.

"We are really looking to educate the children. Whatever we do, we are never going to be able to stop drugs. But this is more about helping them make the right choice."

As well as workshops, parents and pupils will be introduced to a variety of substances and shown what drugs from skunk to Rohypnol actually look like.

There will also be a talk by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips, author of the book Mum Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid: What Drugs Did To My Family.

Her son was expelled from school for smoking cannabis, but quickly turned to harder drugs before taking his own life in despair at his addiction to heroin. Her book tells of how her family were torn apart by the tragedy.

"This is why we have asked Elizabeth to come in," said PC Lovell. "She has been in that position and she has seen drugs kill. She is in a better position than all of us to say what it is like. I can't really say to parents 'look for this and look for that' but she has been there and knows all about it."

PC Lovell was appointed safer schools officer in February, eight months after her predecessor PC Craig Shenkin left his post.

Relationships between the police and pupils were tarnished when riot cops were drafted in to deal with trouble outside the gates in November 2006 and were accused of beating up and racially abusing some youngsters.

After a period of consultation with parents and staff, Hampstead's governors and headteacher Jacques Szemalikowski decided to bring in PC Lovell.

"My job is to take the school forward, not to dwell on what has happened in the past, I will just get on with what I am doing. The kids are getting used to the uniform again," she said.

Mr Szemalikowski added: "Our active involvement in National Tackling Drugs Week reflects our commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles for young people here at Hampstead School. We are clear about our values and our duty to both equip young people to make positive choices, and to give parents the tools that they need to support their children."

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk


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