KAMLOOPS - Police in Kamloops are stepping up to address parents in the city, in hopes of saving their children from ending up on the street.
RCMP school liaison Const. Sofie Winkels says she hopes a drug-use forum next week will help open the conversation around drug use.
"It’s really important just for parents to come out and have the information," Winkels says. "We’re not in a position to tell parents how to parent their kids, we’re there to give them the information."
Kamloops RCMP along with school counsellors and addiction workers will take the floor at the Henry Grube Education Centre on March 6 to address parents about teen drug use. Winkels says the prominent drug of choice among teens is marijuana and says it's important they aren't misinformed.
"What I see is kids starting to experiment with marijuana," she says. "The effects of marijuana is you lose your drive to do things and that’s a huge part of what just completely kills me. For better or worse we’re having this debate in our country about legalization and they think that there’s nothing wrong with it."
Winkels says RCMP has hosted forums like this in the past in Brock and Sun Peaks, but there has usually been a disappointing turn out.
"What we’re finding is that we have these things, the parents are really excited about it, then we have about eight people show up," Winkels says. "We’re trying to get the message out there to the community that this is available, and... to start up that conversation and... let people know that we are the resource in the schools, parents can call us directly if they’re having problems."
With 914 people in B.C. dying from illicit drug overdose deaths last year, Winkels says it's important for parents and children to understand it could happen to anyone.
"We don’t talk about drug addiction as much as we should, we don’t talk about mental health as much as we should," Winkels says. "With parents, (they say)... ‘Oh no, no, that’s not my kid, that’s not my kid.’ When your kid shows up to school and they’re high, as a school police officer I have to have those tough conversations."
Winkels says those tough conversations can include informing the parent that their child has a problem at all.
"It’s a lot easier to have an open conversation before we get to the point where it’s going to take a lot more interventions to stop it," she says.
Many of the drug overdoses B.C. and the Interior saw last year were attributed to fentanyl, but Winkels says this isn't the only reason the RCMP is hosting this forum.
"A really big message of ours is you don’t know that you have the potential to be a drug addict until you’re a drug addict," Winkels says. "(The presentation is) not necessarily on the fentanyl crisis but it pairs with it. People want more information, they want to know what’s going on, so we will be presenting a little bit of information on fentanyl."
More than anything, Winkels says, it's important for parents to educate themselves on substance use so they know what to tell their children when they're asked the tough questions.
"Gather as much information as possible, be involved in your kid's life and be a positive role model, because your kid sees you every day and sees what you do every day," she says. "They need to have information beforehand, so that when kids come to them with questions... they feel comfortable saying 'We went to this presentation. This is what the police said, this is what the mental health worker said, this is what the addictions worker said'."
The forum will be held at Henry Grube Education Centre on Monday, March 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For more on illicit drug overdoses, go here.
For more on the fentanyl crisis, go here.
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