by Dakshayani Madangopal
BANGALORE, NOV 19, 2015: Forty six teachers participated in a special workshop, organised by the Don Bosco Research Centre, on November 14 in Bangalore; to help them to identify and tackle substance abuse among school children.
The workshop, held at Bethany's Pre-preparatory School, began with Dr Mohan Roy, professor of psychiatry at the Medical College Thiruvananthapuram, addressing the gathering on the menace of drugs. In his session, Dr Roy touched upon the types of drugs, consumption behaviour and effects on human organs. There was active participation with teachers asking numerous questions about effects of alcohol, tolerance and withdrawal behaviour, role of nature vs nurture, steps to be taken to combat the habit.
The session was followed by a quiz conducted by Hemalatha Anil Kumar, consultant, Don Bosco Research Centre, Mumbai. The participants were divided into six groups and all correct answers were awarded chocolates. Dr Roy's expertise proved to be invaluable at this stage as participants sought detailed clarifications for some of the quiz questions.
In the post lunch session, Swapnil Pange, psychologist and counsellor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, covered the types, reasons, signs, symptoms and consequences of substance abuse - and most importantly - the role of teachers and the importance of communication. Pange highlighted the role of school principals and counsellors in early intervention and prevention, collaboration with the local police, parents and treatment agencies and helping parents to develop effective parenting skills to deal with the issue.
It was stressed that motivation and incentives needed to be given to teachers to participate in training. Schools needed to have a comprehensive drug prevention programme in their curriculum, which was informative, interactive, interesting and developmentally appropriate, focused upon problem solving skills and would help students improve self- esteem. He also stressed upon the role of life skill training and assertiveness training that would enable children say "NO" to drugs.
Pange added that since the vulnerability to substance addiction starts at an early age, it is important to initiate talks about the ill- effects of substance abuse at a younger age at homes as well as in schools before it becomes too late. He highlighted the need to strengthen protective factors and suggested that the teachers should not take up the role of a professional counsellor but instead refer the child to the school counsellor or to a professional working with drug addiction. The role-plays and group activities initiated were very effective. Before concluding, post training evaluation forms were filled by the teachers and Certificates of Participation distributed.