Thursday, August 27, 2015


by Doctor Susan Mathew


CHANDIGARH, AUGUST 26, 2015: The Don Bosco Research Centre (DBRC) was able to accomplish one more national level teacher training programme on substance abuse on August 19 - 20 in Chandigarh. 

The training programme, which spanned two days, was organised in co-ordination with the NGO, The Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM), the State Legal Services Authority and the State National Service Scheme (NSS). It was held at the State Judicial Academy, Chandigarh.


Sixty teachers - from various schools and colleges across the city - participated in the programme. During the inaugural session, Lal Chand, the member secretary, State Legal Services; Bikram Rana, state liaison Officer, NSS and Manish Kumar, programme in- charge, SPYM urged the participants to consider the training programme as an important tool to address the social menace of substance abuse among children.


Susan Mathew, DBRC, briefed the audience about the objectives and the expected outcome of the programme. Pre-workshop forms were distributed to teachers to assess their understanding about substance abuse.


On day one, sessions by Doctor Yatan Pal Singh, assistant professor of psychiatry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi covered all the important aspects concerning substance abuse i.e., definition, types of drugs, harms of drugs, stages, approaches and legal implications.


He drew a clear distinction between drugs and consequences, medicines and non- medicines, legal and illegal drugs, use, abuse and total drug dependence. He stressed that children were at a `high risk' as they started with experimentation of drugs stealthily moving to occasional use and then eventually to regular use.


Prevention is always better than controlling the damage done, de-addiction and rehabilitation. Therefore it was important for teachers to identify and prevent the children from resorting to substance use at an earlier stage. Veena Sahrma, DBRC, conducted an activity to understand participants' level of knowledge on advantage and disadvantage of drugs.


The second day's sessions were devoted to practical learning through creative and innovative activities designed by Kalyani, consultant, SPYM, Delhi.

Teachers were made to understand strengthening as well as weakening factors in a child's network of relationships, the role of parents, siblings, friends and others that included teachers, counselors, social workers in prevention of substance abuse.

It was important that the risk factors like fear, stress, abuse, peer pressure driving children to substance abuse were surpassed by protective factors such as love, care, patience, understanding, family values and good friends.


She also demonstrated how the grassroots comics would enable a child to speak up about the pressing issues in a creative manner. Some of the important measures in addressing the problem amongst school children included keen observation, understanding one's role, being resourceful, maintaining records and referring to professional help.


Some of the teachers shared their experiences about the training programme. Besides knowledge building, the training had provided a direction and insights into duties. It also upgraded their skills to identify the problem and measures to deal with it.


During the concluding session, Lal Chand shared the road map he had chalked out to take forward the anti-drug movement in Chandigarh.


To promote awareness on substance abuse across schools, a team consisting of trained teachers and two students would be constituted, who in turn would reach out to their peers. State NSS would be playing an active role in the campaign by roping in all NSS volunteers from various colleges and training them. State Legal Services Authority would take up the campaign with slum communities and other pockets of the city.


The take home message for all the participants was to 'help every child in Chandigarh say no to drugs and to make Chandigarh a drug-free city.'


Before the closing of the training programme, post-training forms were filled by participants and certificates of participation were distributed.

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