by Doctor Susan Mathew
KOCHI, AUGUST 6, 2015: The Don Bosco Research Centre (DBRC) organised a two- day training programme for teachers on identification and prevention of substance abuse among school children on July 31 in Kochi, Kerala.
The programme was hosted by the Don Bosco School, Vaduthala, Kochi in the school premises.
Father Paulson, the Rector and Father Babu Manissery, the Principal, welcomed the participating teachers from various schools across the city.
Pre-workshop forms were distributed to teachers to assess their understanding about substance abuse. On the first day, Doctor Mohan Roy, professor of psychiatry at the Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram conducted a series of sessions on drugs, types of drugs, consumption behaviour and effects on human organs.
He highlighted the need to make youngsters lead a healthy life style. Parents had a protective role in preventing children from falling into the trap of substance abuse. Some of the referral services available in Kochi were also suggested to the participants.
Swapnil Pange, a psychologist and counsellor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai addressed the gathering on the second day. He highlighted the role of teachers in identification and prevention of substance abuse among children. The sessions covered the prevalence, types, reasons, signs, symptoms and consequences of substance abuse among children.
He said that since the youth are vulnerable to substance addiction, it was important to initiate talks about the ill- effects of substance abuse in homes as well as in schools before it was too late.
Protective factors such as self-acceptance, supportive family, saying no to drugs, caring relationship, obeying laws and avoidance of delinquent peers needed to be strengthened.
While educating the teachers about the do's and don'ts, they were urged not to take up the role of a counsellor but to refer the child to the school counsellor or a professional working with drug addiction.
Talking to parents, follow up for treatment, family counselling were some of the measures to address the issue.
Pange also explained the role of school principals, counsellors and importance of organising programmes on substance abuse in schools, parent teacher forums, setting up a panel of service providers in schools and helping parents to develop effective parenting skills to deal with the issue.
The teachers shared their experiences in dealing with children who were using substances. Boys applying `kajal' on their eyes appeared to be one of the ways in which children connected with peers using substances.
Hemaltha Anilkumar, consultant, DBRC conducted a quiz to assess teachers' level of understanding on the topic. Towards the end of the two-day programme, post training forms were filled up by the teachers and certificates of participation were distributed.