Devon kids caught with cannabis

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 23/05/2014

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Five students were suspended from a New Plymouth school and one was stood down after being caught with drugs.

Devon Intermediate principal Fiona Parkinson said a group of students were found with a small quantity of cannabis and utensils for smoking it.

"It is an isolated incident," she said.

"It was found after it was reported by another student."

Parkinson said the student who was stood down was already back at school, while the other five had been excluded until they appeared, with their parents, before the Board of Trustees.

"They make a decision from there about what happens," Parkinson said.

Information about the incident and action taken was explained to parents in a letter this week.

"We treat it very seriously," she said. "We are very open about it because it gives people a chance to talk about it. It gives them the facts."

Police and drug dogs have been used to search for banned substances at high schools around the region in the past.

Parkinson said this was not the case at Devon.

"We are always looking for ways to keep our kids safe. They [dogs] are not something we have discussed but I won't rule it out from being discussed in the future."

All students were required to take part in an educational initiative that dealt with drug and alcohol-related issues, Parkinson said.

"We use the Life Education Trust programme for our drug and alcohol counselling at school. All our children participate in that," she said.

Trust chairman Grant Coward said the programme was hugely successful in keeping kids away from harmful substances.

A huge range of topics was addressed with students and one of those was substance abuse, he said.

"We talk about peer pressure and learning to say no," he said.

"We also talk about what drugs and other substances do to the body."

Coward said educating primary and intermediate aged children was important.

"They are vulnerable and at a point where they are making choices about being good or bad," he said.

"We like to think we have an 80 to 90 per cent success rate. You are always going to get one or two that fall through the cracks."

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