What Bay area schools are doing to stop drugs

Local schools' initiatives are hampered by lack of funding.

The numbers may be startling when it comes to the number of drugs confiscated every year from Bay area schools.

In Pinellas County last year there were 487 incidents of drug possession. There were more than 500 drug referrals in Hillsborough County.

10News WTSP wanted to know what’s being done to crack down on the numbers after one of the biggest drug education courses in schools was eliminated due to budget cuts.

The amount of drugs with in the schools is shocking to some parents.

“That is nuts. That is uncomfortable,” says Shawn Alleman, parent.

What is also shocking is the programs that are no longer available.

Back in 2011, The DARE program was eliminated leaving many Bay area schools without any concentrated drug education course.

“When they did evaluation with program, it was not effective but instead of eliminating they should’ve replaced program with one that has a proven track record,” says Rep. Kathleen Peters.

Here’s a closer look at the numbers over just the past couple of years.

                                  2016-17            2015-15               2014-15         2013-14   2012-13


Pinellas County:    101                     483                         575                   640             271


Polk County:           40                      361                      408                  398            420


Pasco County:         18                   177                      214                  191            249


Manatee County:   12                      87                          75                   92             77  


Hillsborough Co:     78                  537                       521                  480               455

“The numbers are there because we take it seriously and take action,” says Tanya Arja, spokesperson with Hillsborough County Schools.

Arja says they have programs in the school system that address the anti-drug message.

“All kids in high school take HOPE class that talks all about health and in that is substance abuse,” says Arja.

Middle schoolers also talk about drug prevention in their PE curriculum.

But many anti-drug alliances say it’s not the same as DARE where that program focused only on drug education.

They believe more needs to be done.

But Hillsborough schools spokesperson says the district is not looking at adding more programs although the numbers have grown.

There are many anti-drug programs that try and spread their message within the schools.

The Mendez Foundation teaches program in eighth through 12th grades in Hillsborough County Schools.

For more info: https://www.toogoodprograms.org/

Hillsborough County Anti-drug Allicane provided substance abuse prevention curriculum with DVDs to all Hillsborough County resource officers to give presentations in the middle schools and high schools.

YMAD is a prevention program in Hillsborough County that is both youth-driven and youth-led, and is comprised of youth ages 11-18 (Middle School and High School).  It operates under the purview of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA), which is a non-profit organization focused on a community where youth and families are safe, healthy and free of substance abuse and addiction.  Fostering youth empowerment, working on policies and participating in activities aimed at preventing and reducing substance abuse define YMAD.  Discussions during meetings may include such topics as underage drinking, bullying, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs.



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