Friday, May 9, 2008

Kids offered drug disguised as lollies

THE drug ice is being offered to school children disguised as lollies, parents have been warned.
A note sent home by Rozelle Public School in Sydney's inner-west warned that children could be approached and given crystal methamphetamine in chocolate, strawberry and peanut flavour.

The alert, written in the school newsletter, says the substance "looks like a crunchy sweet".

It adds: "A child in Leichhardt may have been offered such a substance recently.

"Please emphasis the child protection strategy with your children. Talk with your children about saying no and going and telling someone immediately."

One parent, who did not want to be identified, said the warning had greatly concerned the school community.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Training said last night a "concerned and responsible Rozelle Public parent advised the school they heard a child (not a Rozelle student) was offered chocolate that may have been tainted with drugs".

He added: "Rozelle Public is proactive about stranger-danger and has policies and procedures in place to educate students and the community. The school decided to include the story as a warning for the school community."

Australia is battling an ice epidemic, with statistical evidence showing 170,400 people aged 14 and older used methamphetamines in NSW in just one year.

There are fears that drug abuse is taking hold of the young more than ever before with the age of first-time drug users in NSW dropping to 12 - down from 17 to 19 in the 1970s and 1980s.

Last year a graphic advertising campaign was launched highlighting the savage effects methamphetamines have on users, as part of the Federal Government's $30 million fight against illicit drug use.

Australian National Council on Drugs chairman John Herron, a former government minister, called for children aged 6 to 12 to be be targeted by anti-drugs campaigns to help them "say no".

He said school-based programs should start in the early primary years.

A report found almost one in 10 Australians older than 14 had tried methamphetamines - including speed and ice - and 1.5 million Australians had used the drug.

In October last year three children at a NSW South Coast primary school were taken to hospital after they appeared to have taken ecstasy at lunchtime after mistaking them for strawberry lollies.

Windang Primary principal Sue Tolhurst said the pupils, a girl aged 11 and two 10-year-old boys from the same class, complained of feeling unwell but were able to give a comprehensible account of what had happened.

Data collected by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows that drug incidents in schools are falling.

But serious incident reports obtained by The Daily Telegraph under Freedom of Information reveal a number of concerns.


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