The Prince George District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) is hoping to see the creation of “drug-free zones” around three schools in Prince George.
DPAC vice-chairperson Lisa Martinson and Prince George RCMP drug awareness officer Corp. Paul Collister were at the Prince George School District 57 meeting, Tuesday, to ask the board’s support for the initiative.
The zones would be a 300-metre radius around each school where, under law, any person caught possessing, trafficking or soliciting youth to traffic drugs would face increased criminal sentences, Martinson explained.
The zones would be paired with an education initiative inside and outside the schools.
“The number of our youth using crack cocaine is on the rise,” Martinson said. “Drug use is linked to higher drop-out rates. Kids cannot learn if they’re not attending classes and they cannot learn if they’re high.”
Parents are concerned about drug use in schools, she said.
Children are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure to try drugs at “transition points” in Grade 4, Grade 7, Grade 9 and Grade 11, she said.
“We should have safe, caring, orderly and drug-free schools,” Martinson said. “This should be presented as a positive, not a negative, to students. Information is the key defense for our children. They are listening.”
Martinson said there is no one solution to combating teen drug use, but creating drug-free zones would be a step in the right direction.
Collister said the three schools which haven’t been named were chosen after he plotted drug incidents reported to RCMP on a city map.
“We had 1,200 drug files from last year,” he said. “We couldn’t fit them all, so this is just a sampling.”
New provincial funding to combat methamphetamine Â also known as meth or crystal meth use could provide some start up money for the project, Collister said.
“I am very pleased to see this motion come forward,” trustee Michelle Marrelli said. “I remember this issue coming forward five years ago.”
The trustees voted to write a letter of support for the initiative. DPAC and Prince George RCMP plan to seek approval for the zones from the Crown prosecutor’s office.