Earlier this month, representatives from various organisations across British Forces Cyprus visited St John’s School in Episkopi to deliver a Drugs Substance Misuse presentation to Year 11 students.
SBA Police Community Officer, Police Constable Lucy Charalambous, was joined by BFC school Nurse, Victoria Critchley and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse, Claire Lenehan, who all played an active role.
The presentation focused largely on illegal drugs and the impact they have on society and in particular, on school-age children.
The misuse of drugs and the hugely damaging impact they can have on the body in both the short and long-term, was also highlighted to the students, by showing them the ageing effect these substances have.
Reflecting on the hard-hitting seminar, PC Charalambous explained why it was so important to get the message through to the students.
She said: “As a Community police officer, I strive to educate young persons, especially teenagers about the dangers involved with drugs misuse, in order to make them think twice about taking drugs, or never trying them in the first place.
“We understand that there is pressure out there, especially from their peers, who experiment for fun or curiosity, however they must consider the consequences involved and should just say no to drugs.
“Being a drug user or addict can impact your life in many negative ways. We have seen cases where drug users have no control over their own life because the drugs have taken over and they have become addicts.”
Registered Nurse, Victoria Critchley, who works closely with the students daily, was equally passionate about the importance of the presentation.
She said: “As the school nurse one of my roles is to inform young people about the health risks they will be exposed to in their physical and social environment and my aim for this session was to educate them to the reality of experimenting with recreational drugs and the short and long term implications.
“The take home message was to not take the risk with their health and that although they may not show it, their friends will respect them more if they are assertive and clear about what they do and don’t want to do.”
St John’s School teacher, Marina Lea, feels the relationship between the students, the police and the health authorities is key to getting the message through to her students.
She explained: “Creating a link between Community Officers, nurses and health workers is vitally important in schools. The Substance Misuse presentation we
received allowed our pupils to access a fantastic professional and up to date breadth of knowledge.
“Our visiting police officer gave the opportunity for Year 11 pupils to ask questions, gain an understanding of the law and health issues linked to substance abuse and ultimately prepare them for future challenges.”
PC Charalambous concluded the seminar by explaining the categorisation of drugs and highlighted the potential punishments involved for those possessing, selling and manufacturing drugs.
She said: “Of course, the legal punishments can be extremely severe if you are involved with drugs, but we want to educate children about these things before it gets to the stage of punishment and this is why we conduct these presentations.”