Take Part in National Drug Facts Week

NDFW logoEvery day our students are bombarded with conflicting messages related to drug use, and they may be confused and unsure who to ask for accurate information. With seven percent of teens reporting abuse of prescription drugs in the past year and 23 percent of 12th graders reporting using marijuana in the past month, it’s crucial to provide them with the facts.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is holding the third annual “National Drug Facts Week” from January 27 – February 2, 2014, and educators and schools have the opportunity to help shatter the myths about drug use. There are plenty of ways for you to get engaged, including:

The Department of Education has created numerous resources to assist schools and colleges, as well as parents, in preventing illicit drug use. We are pleased our federal colleagues at NIDA have created such an array resources for students and schools, and that they provide this annual opportunity for students to chat one on one with NIDA researchers, and to better educate themselves on how drugs can impact their lives.

Find out more online at:

Norris Dickard is Healthy Students Group Leader in ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students

Putting an End to Human Trafficking

The end of the American Civil War held the promise of a new life for millions of the country’s citizens. President Abraham Lincoln called it  “a new birth of freedom.”  Unfortunately, 150 years after the end of that devastating war, we continue to struggle with human slavery in the form of human trafficking.

HHS_look_beneath_the_surface_4Human trafficking is the control and exploitation of others for the purpose of compelled labor and/or commercial sex acts. It is considered one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, with traffickers generating billions of dollars in profits each year by victimizing millions of people. Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a problem in other countries. Human trafficking is a reality in communities across America and, increasingly, we are seeing that schools are targets for recruitment. Sadly, our most vulnerable students are at the highest risk for victimization.

We, as educators, play a unique role in the lives of our students and can learn the signs and indicators of trafficking to join in the fight against this form of modern-day slavery.  It is imperative that we learn to identify the signs of trafficking and what steps to take when an incidence is suspected. For more information on the indicators that school staff and administrators should be aware of, and how to report potential incidents, please check out the Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Student’s Fact Sheet on Domestic Human Trafficking.

President Obama has proclaimed January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In addition to the fact sheet above, you can find human trafficking prevention resources from the Polaris Project, the U.S. State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.

Eve Birge is an education program specialist in the Office of Safe and Healthy Students

Preventing Drug Abuse to Prevent Dropouts

Even though National Substance Abuse Prevention Month has ended, it doesn’t mean our dedication to reducing the number of Americans hurt by alcohol and drug abuse has ended as well. At the Department of Education (ED), encouraging safe and healthy environments for students is a year-round effort.

Recently, ED brought together researchers, policy experts, as well as White House officials to discuss new research on the role drug use plays in America’s dropout crisis.

The new report found that researchers and educators who study adolescent substance abuse often recognize the link between substance use and academic failure, but that the link is rarely acknowledged among state and federal policy makers. The briefing at ED’s headquarters was a step to correct this problem.

The briefing also touched upon the White House’s national strategy to combat illicit drug use, and the important role schools play in local drug-free community coalitions.

David Esquith, director of ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students noted that parents, teachers and school counselors “are a first line of defense in prevention,” and that ED has created resources to assist in prevention. He explained that the Department also provides technical assistance for colleges and schools in helping them engage with students in preventing drug use.

You can watch the entire event here, and check out the resources below.

Norris Dickard is Healthy Students Group Leader in ED’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students