PCSO, Alpha Phi Sigma teach substance abuse awareness class at GES

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2021

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The Pike County Sheriff’s Office and Troy University’s Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice fraternity are reaching out to sixth graders to explain the dangers of substance abuse.

Pike County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Austin Bennett, a graduate student at Troy University and a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, said it was important for students in the sixth grade to understand what substance abuse was, the dangers of substance abuse and how to get help. Bennett said national studies indicate that students may become casual users of some illegal substance by the time they reach the eighth grade.

According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020, 21.3 percent of eighth graders had used an illicit drug in their lifetime, 15.6 percent had used a drug in the past year and 8.7 percent had used a drug in the last month.

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“Substance abuse can start around the ages of 13 to 15,” Bennett told sixth graders at Goshen Elementary School. “Sixth graders are on the cusp of turning that age. You’re right on the brink of that age, you’re right at the fork in the road where you can make a bad decision or you can make a good decision.”

Bennett had three members of Alpha Phi Sigma with him on Wednesday, the second day the program was presented in Goshen. The fraternity members talked about three illicit drugs that children were likely to encounter.

Addison Meeks talked with the students about the dangers of vaping, Briana Quintana talked with the children about marijuana and Richard Allen Roberts talked with the kids about the dangers of alcohol. Jessica Childs and Lexie Scarber talked with the children on Tuesday.

After listening to the presentation from the PCSO and APS, Bennett and the APS team, the students attempted to run an obstacle course wearing drunk goggles and had a chance to look at cruisers from the PCSO.