I visited LCE this past Wednesday and Thursday, here is what we talked about:
5th Grade – No Way Out
With the hazards that mother nature can sometimes stir up for us in mind, I thought it would be a good time to talk to the kids about safety. Hopefully, all of the kids like to do things outdoors, but its important that they don’t put themselves in risky situations needlessly. We started class by talking about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike or following the lifeguards directions when you are at the beach. Every year, I hear a handful of stories from the schools that I teach at about kids that get hurt playing outside because they didn’t take a basic precaution (last year, one of my students was in Children’s Hospital for a week because he didn’t wear a helmet on his bike).
After that, we watched a PSA about the flood control channels in LA County. “No Way Out” is (by far) the oldest video I have (in order to do it justice I should play it on an old reel to reel projector). However, like a pine tree the message of the video is evergreen, and it always leaves an impression on the students that see it.
The video was produced in the 90’s in a joint effort by many LA County and City agencies to bring safety awareness regarding the concrete flood channels in the southland. These cement rivers are not meant for recreation, and although it (almost) never rains in Southern California, flooding is a very real issue when it does.
The video has lots of exciting footage of water rescues, and it finishes with a very sad story about a local boy (Adam Bischoff of Woodland Hills) that drowned in the channels. I show the video not just to show the dangers of the storm channels, but also to emphasize the importance of not taking unnecessary risks when it comes to all of the recreational activities the kids participate in.
Unfortunately, in 2017 another teenager was killed in the flood channels when Elias “Eli” Rodriguez fell into the wash on his way to his grandmother’s house from school in Sylmar last February. I show this lesson at my schools, so that our kids know the risks and hopefully help them think twice about putting themselves into these precarious situations.
6th Grade = Marijuana and the Teen Brain
We started by writing down some notes about marijuana that refresh and build on what we talked about last year:
- Marijuana is not a vitamin or a health food.
- Marijuana is a plant that contains the hallucinogenic drug THC.
- THC makes your heart beat faster and disrupts balance, vision, coordination and reaction time.
- THC makes it hard to recall information and negatively impacts learning.
- Kids that use THC may permanently lower their intelligence.
- THC can be just as addictive as any of the other recreational drug.
- Abusing THC can trigger mental illness.
- Smoking/vaping marijuana is just as bad for your lungs as smoking/vaping anything else.
- CBD and THC both come from the marijuana, but there are different chemicals.
After that intro we watched the beginning of a video called “Marijuana and the Teenage Brain”. This video covers the ongoing research into the permanent negative effects of marijuana on the brains of kids. Here is a link to a preview of the video.
Our discussion ended with a talk on the unending changes to laws regarding marijuana. Cities across the United States are still trying to figure out local rules and guidelines for adults to use the drug. Add the contradictory Federal laws that still outlaw marijuana and THC products, and the legalization of marijuana is still a very confusing and ambiguous topic.
With that being said, I reminded the students that the rules regarding kids and marijuana haven’t changed at all: a school aged child that gets caught in possession of or using a marijuana product is breaking the law and will face consequences from law enforcement, school administration and (hopefully) their families. There is nothing ambiguous about that, and those rules are in effect no matter where they live in the USA until they are 21.
I think its important to talk to the kids about marijuana in depth at least once a year, and this presentation builds on the material from the previous year. As always, please talk to your kids about their experiences and interactions with their peers. Every one of them will be making choices (such as whether or not to try drugs like THC) as they progress through middle school and high school. The more guidance they get from parents and the more fore-thought they put into these decisions, the more prepared they will be to make decisions for themselves. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.