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Advice please: Drugs Rife at school

(17 Posts)
nellyfromthetelly Sun 05-Jun-16 12:17:11

My daughter is 14 and at a state secondary school. The school is socially very mixed with some quite rough elements, but she has managed to gather a seemingly 'nice' band of friends from attentive and capable families.

However, over the course of the last few few days, it has come to my attention that her school has a big problem with weed being sold and used on the school premises. It seems, in fact, to be rife across all year groups!

The school are working with the local police to find and expel the worst offenders, and some arrests have even been made. However, they are doing so 'quietly' - I suspect because they do not want to damage their reputation.

After discovering all this, I thoroughly checked my daughter's phone and discovered that a handful of her 'nice' friends, from 'good' homes, are amongst the significant minority of school kids who are regularly buying using drugs and alcohol.

She seems not to have indulged herself, yet she did not want to tell me for risk of being ostracised. Sadly, the parents in question, parents who I see for termly drinks, seem not to have a clue about what their kids are up to.

The obvious thing would be to tell the parents and / or the school but my situation is more complicated. My daughter has SEN and we are not a popular family at the school as result of the extra effort she requires. Also, until recently she was regularly bullied and had few friends. Making a little group has taken years of 'social skills training' and resilience on her part.

Upping sticks and leaving the school is not an option for us. On the other hand, if I tried to inform parents / the school and became known as an 'informer', then my daughters social wellbeing at school will surely plummet.
Not to mention the risk of 'shoot the messenger'.

What do I do? Clever ideas anybody?

teacherwith2kids Sun 05-Jun-16 12:23:31

Tell the school (preferably a named individual e.g. a deputy head or whoever you trust most through their dealings with your DD - may e.g. be a SENCo, who will have appropriate channels to report it), with exactly the concerns that you have mentioned - ie that it should not be clear to anyone that you are the 'informer' and that you are worried about the effect on your daughter.

Unless you have evidence that the school has routinely broken confidences of this kind, IME schools are VERY good at maintaining confidentiality around e.g. child welfare concerns and will make every effort to use the information without linking it to you IYSWIM?

teacherwith2kids Sun 05-Jun-16 12:25:12

If, on the other hand, because you are 'not popular with the school' as a result of your DD's SEN and you feel that they could betray your confidence, then a call to the local police would seem an obvious way forward - they too are experienced at dealing with witnesses who wish to preserve a degree of confidentiality.

AgentProvocateur Sun 05-Jun-16 12:25:21

'Twas ever thus. I went to a "good" school in a wealthy area, and there were always drugs for sale, as the kids had money. The school are working with the police - in your situation, I wouldn't tell the parents. I'm sure they'll find out soon enough if it's a problem, but will probably shoot the messenger. I realise I'll probably get shot down for my opinion, but my DS are now 20 and 21, and I realised when they were about your daughters age, that sometimes you have to take a step back and turn a blind eye.

legotits Sun 05-Jun-16 12:27:47

I wouldn't be intervening with school, they are on it.

I would be making it a priority to learn about what is out there and purported legal highs.
If your DD has vulnerability or even if not I would STRONGLY advise anyone to educate yourself.

Times are a changing and the drugs are different these days.

There is a ch4 programme and a couple of bbc ones available currently showing legal highs and what is happening in the drug world.

Good luck smile

MrsJayy Sun 05-Jun-16 12:34:32

WhenDd1 Was in 6th year (scottish year 13) i found out head boy was taking drugs and selling them drugs and drink is rife in most schools I think if you are worried approach the school or speak to the police some parents dont want to know what their offspring is up to so i wouldnt be telling parents

MrsJayy Sun 05-Jun-16 12:38:21

My cousin was in the same year as me at school they were smoking /selling weed and other stuff at school having house parties at the weekend when my aunt and uncle was out A &U wouldnt have believed their child was into drugs

thecatfromjapan Sun 05-Jun-16 12:38:33

I'd concentrate on talking to your dd and doing everything possible to get her to understand why she doesn't want to get caught up in this. Focus on the fact that the school are on the case and that she will get caught if she buys/uses drugs on school premises.

The second part of your problem is more tricky. As a parent, I'd want to know if my child was buying/selling/using. Normally, I'd say talk to the parents you know. But I think your situation is different. In your situation, I think I'd suggest you bite your tongue.

it's awful. I've been through this myself. The anger I feel is quite profound. But best keep that for another thread, some other time.

nellyfromthetelly Sun 05-Jun-16 12:39:57

Wow. Amazing advice - I was not expecting that. I thought most people would think I was an awful person for not speaking up straight away.
All advice that has been given so far is most appreciated - thank you

Heirhelp Sun 05-Jun-16 12:46:56

The school will not publicly announce to students why someone has been expelled as it unfair on the child who has been expelled.

As a secondary teacher I have noticed is the kids from 'naice' families who drink and do drugs as they have access to money for pay for it.

Talk to frank is a good place for you to find out info before you talk to your daughter.

titchy Sun 05-Jun-16 13:02:25

Educate your daughter. Give her strategies to deal with peer pressure. She'll need that anyway if she's vulnerable. Role play, give her the words and tools to say no.

The school knows and is dealing with it, so no point telling them.

As for the other parents, to be honest I'd leave well alone. Teens have always done stuff they're not supposed to do, and smoking a bit of weed and drinking isn't in the off the rails category. They'll come through this phase ok in the end. You should also bear in mind that at least half what kids post on social media or say to their friends is just bragging and not actually true.

happygardening Sun 05-Jun-16 14:13:54

I'm probably also going to get shot down for this.
IMO any parent who thinks their teenage DC has not tried drugs of some description or drunk alcohol is being very naive. I would be more shocked if mine hadn't than if they had. I see many children professionally who deny vociferously in front of their parents any drug/alcohol use but when they're not there and they know what they say is confidential they admit to both.
I personally wouldn't tell the school or the police about other children but maybe that's just me coming from my occupation.
Concentrate on your DD talk to her about it and your concerns about her taking drugs or drinking in excess, that's what I've done. It's vitally important that you create an environment where you children feel they can come to you and talk about it and not be vilified.

Ladymuck Tue 07-Jun-16 16:50:37

Kids are going to be exposed to a huge range of behavior at school.

However, I would also be wary about believing everything that you see on your dds phone. Some kids talk/write about things to make them look cooler than they are.

nellyfromthetelly Tue 07-Jun-16 17:24:24

This is so interesting. I am beginning to feel rather like a namby pamby woosie type. I thought I was 'down'. 13 just seems too young to be exposed to this.

Thanks all for replying. It has been helpful

BertrandRussell Wed 08-Jun-16 02:48:03

How has it come to your attention? Because I think you should usually take gossip about a school and what children say about their school with a massive pinch of salt or three.

Frankly, I would be more bothered by "My daughter has SEN and we are not a popular family at the school as result of the extra effort she requires." That would be a real red flag........

goodbyestranger Wed 08-Jun-16 08:04:10

I second both happygardening and Bertrand!

MiffleTheIntrovert Wed 08-Jun-16 08:38:51

Bertrand is spot on.

There will always be a risk of your DC being exposed to drugs and/or alcohol, even in naice schools (I tend to think especially in nice schools). You cannot control this, but what you can control is how you equip your DC to respond to this. You need to research this yourself so you know what you're dealing (no pun intended smile) with - especially legal highs which seem to be, with weed, most popular, and equip your DC with this information. The majority of teens tend to have at least one episode where they act riskily and you need to make sure they can talk to you if they need advice (or as I have found, if they need advice on behalf of a friend).

I would also try and set a good example. It's very hard to answer "why can't I have a spliff if you have a glass of wine" with a credible response - a simple "because spliffs are illegal" won't cut it with teens. I tend to take the view that both are actually poisons but the risk is greatly bigger especially with skunk and the impact on mental health. You need to know what you're talking about. Also the use of tobacco with weed - much easier to say this if you're a non smoker.

I know it's not great. The other alternative to make sure your DC grow up like the child out of AbFab is to expose them to someone (usually a parent) with either a drug or alcohol problem. I wouldn't recommend this as a course of action, but there are films/books/documentaries which show the reality. If you can get hold of a copy of "H - diary of a teenage heroin addict" it's a good book for DC as it's true story of a teen (albeit in 70s Germany) but teens really relate to it.

The other problem as Bertrand says is your comment about not being popular due to a SN. Is this your DC having problems with the pupils or you having a problem with school or LA staff? The SN section on MN (and forgive me if I'm teaching you to suck eggs) can be very helpful in this regard. This perhaps is an important thing to concentrate your resources on.

The only other thing I would say is ditch your assumptions of naice v rough. It's no help whatsoever and just prejudice, and not something that should be passed on to your DC.

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