Prescription pills, heroin, cigarettes, and alcohol are not things you would expect a fifth grader to be learning about in school, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office is working to change that.
U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld’s Office has started an initiative in Marshall County to hit children with drug abuse knowledge before they go to middle school.
Monday, a representative visited Center McMechen Elementary where the kids took home a very important message about drugs.
“It could affect your future, and I wouldn’t do it because it could kill you when you become older,” said fifth grade student Olivia Thorton.
“We learned about opioids and drugs and how they can affect your future,” added fifth grade student Matthew Perryman.
This initiative is not only happening in Marshall County, but all across the state, as West Virginia is in the midst of what officials call a drug abuse epidemic.
You may be thinking, fifth grade is awfully young to teach children about drugs, but educators say it is never too early to tackle the issue.
“As they told us in the presentation, alcohol use and cigarette use is down among the teenagers and the students, but the opioid use is up,” said fifth grade teacher Sarah Muth.
“I think that it’s very important that we get it in their head that just because it’s in the cabinet, and just because it might be OK for mom to take it or for you to take it in a certain amount, doesn’t mean that it’s OK to abuse it. So, definitely getting them at a young age and getting that in their head is vitally important.”
Before it is all said and done, every fifth grade student in Marshall County will have heard this message and will hopefully make the decision to never abuse drugs in their future.