Written by Patricia Hawke for

Every parent wants their child to grow up healthy and happy. They want for their children to be successful in school, engage in positive social situations, and grow up to be happy, content and productive members of society. No parent on this planet wants their child to become involved in drugs or violence.
According to the Surgeon General, 85% of violent teens have reported using pot and 55% have said they use several other illegal drugs. Some of the most commonly used drugs:
-          Alcohol                               -    Marijuana
-          Inhalants                             -    Cocaine
-          Crack                                  -    Speed
-          LSD                                    -    PCP
-          Prescription meds               -    Opiates
-          Heroin                                 -    Steroids
-          Tobacco                             -    “Club Drugs” such as Ecstasy
But are the Orlando Schools really doing enough to address this problem? And is it their job? The district says that the Orlando Public Schools are working hard to educate secondary school students in the dangers of using drugs and committing violent acts. They are committed to teaching the students of Orlando Schools about the dangers of drugs and the life-altering consequences of violence. Here’s the history.
In 1987, Orlando Schools implemented the Student Assistance and Family Empowerment Program. This Orange County Florida Public Schools program is funded under the Safe and Drug Free Schools Act. The program is fashioned after the Student Assistance Program (SAP) model and is delivered by a SAFE Coordinator at all secondary Orlando Schools (middle and high school) and all three K-8 schools. The SAFE program is maintained by an Orange County Florida Public Schools staff dedicated to educating students about drugs and violence as well as helping students to avoid situations where drugs may be used of violence may be committed. Services that are offered by the SAFE office include:
  • Prevention programs for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD)
  • Bullying prevention programs
  • SAFE Ambassador Program and Prevention Clubs
  • Partners in Change Conference for a Safe and Drug Free Community
In addition to the SAFE department’s services, a number of students have received training in helping their friends and peers avoid drugs and violence. Known as the Safe Ambassador Program, the trained students seek to be a part of prevention at their Orlando Schools and in their communities. The program was implemented in 2004, and has trained students to become the agents of change on their Orlando Schools campuses, which work to ensure a safe and drug-free school for all students. Ambassadors work to recruit other students to form a “SAFE” club which works closely with Orlando Schools’ administrators and SAFE Team members. Students are trained to develop or improve peer mediation skills, bullying prevention strategies, and the identification of at-risk behaviors that require immediate school interventions.
I applaud all of these efforts, but still have to ask the question; When did drug education become the Orange County Florida Public Schools job? Until parents are present and responsible we’ll continue to see many of the same problems.
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a target="_new" href="">Orange County Florida Public Schools</a>