I visited PCR for the 1st time in 2019 this past Friday and Tuesday. Here is what we talked about:
5th Grade – Under Whose Influence
My discussion with the 5th Grade revolved around peer pressure and alcohol. I started the class by giving away some stickers with a riddle game.
After spending a little time talking about drugs in general, I read the class a short “choose your own adventure” novel called Under Whose Influence. The book tells the story of a middle-school girl that goes to a classmate’s house to study and is unexpectedly peer pressured to drink alcohol. Depending on the choices made by the class (majority rules), the main character might choose to stay in the house or leave, drink or not drink, or keep the incident a secret or tell her mom. The story changes depending on the choice, and the consequences of each choice are described for the students to hear. After we finished the story, I spent the end of the class going through the branches that they didn’t choose.
Most kids see the adults in their lives drinking at least occasionally, and its important that they understand the difference between an adult choosing to have a glass of wine with dinner and another adult getting arrested, hurt or worse after getting drunk. Most adults that choose to drink manage to do so in a responsible manner without creating any adverse consequences, but when people abuse alcohol it can get very dangerous very quickly. That danger is increased when the a minor chooses to drink. Its important that the kids understand that any time a person crosses the line of abusing alcohol, there could be potentially life changing consequences. Whenever someone choose to drink, its their responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.
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.