by Dakshayani Madangopal
CHEMBUR-MUMBAI, AUGUST 5, 2014: A one day training programme for teachers in identification and prevention of substance abuse among school children was organised by the Don Bosco Research Centre (DBRC) and Sree Narayana Guru High School (SNGHS) Chembur on the school premises on July 31, 2014. The workshop began with a welcome speech by the Principal of SNGHS, Mrs. Lincy David and a prayer song. Mrs. Dakshayani Madangopal, CEO of the Don Bosco Research Centre briefed the participants about the Centre and its involvement with street children and those addicted to substances. The treasurer of Sree Narayana Guru Mandira Samiti, Shri Hiralal appreciated the effort taken by the school principal and DBRC in organising such a programme.
The first session was conducted by Dr. Sunita Shanbhag, Professor, Dept of Community Medicine, Seth G.S. Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel. Speaking about substance abuse Dr. Sunita commented, "Teachers are the role models for students and mentors particularly for children with deviant behavior". She further added, "Take care of them before the damage is done". She touched upon the meaning of addiction; how people start with addictive behaviour, warning signs to look for and long term effects on the brain. The overall risk was influenced by factors like genes, gender, ethnicity etc, but there were also protective factors that could reduce the risk of developing addiction.
Clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta highlighted the role of teachers in tackling the problem of student substance abuse and the importance of rapport building, non-judgmental behaviour, and the need to separate behaviour from the person. She also spoke about the different interventional approaches that need to be adopted- disciplinary, educational and preventive; the importance of peer mentors, how to work with parents etc. The final speaker Swapnil Pange, counselor with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, held the audience spellbound with a couple of evocative documentaries on substance abuse and then spoke about preventive measures at the school level, life skills to be taught to students, monitoring and follow up, and some of the available referral and rehabilitative services for drug de-addiction.
This training programme for 50 teachers proved to be a much needed initiative and, on a day that witnessed some of the heaviest rains in Mumbai, was successful in keeping the audience actively engaged. A pre and post-workshop evaluation was also conducted to gauge the impact of the programme on the teachers. This is the first in a series of teacher training programmes proposed to be undertaken by the Don Bosco Research Centre, in an effort to gain a measure of control over the rapidly proliferating problem of substance abuse among school children.