(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) today released the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education’s list of recommendations on options for implementing age-appropriate substance abuse education in schools across all grade levels.
Attorney General DeWine, Speaker Rosenberger, and former Senate President Keith Faber created the study committee in August.
“At least eight people are dying each day in Ohio from accidental drug overdoses. This is happening in our cities, suburbs, and small towns, and no community is immune,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We must educate all of Ohio’s kids early-on and keep repeating the message about the dangers of drug addiction. This report will serve as a road map to help implement comprehensive substance abuse prevention programs.”
The study committee concluded that Ohio schools should provide consistent, age-appropriate, evidence-based substance abuse education for all students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Although there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum for Ohio schools, the committee offered a number of examples of curriculum that could be used to meet this recommendation.
Because there is no baseline for determining how schools are currently implementing substance abuse education in Ohio, the group also recommended that Ohio adopt a reporting system that requires schools to publicly report how they are fulfilling their requirements to provide substance abuse education.
The committee also recognized the importance of social and emotional education. This instruction teaches good decision-making skills, builds self-esteem, and encourages positive interactions with others, which in turn, could help students resist alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Social and emotional education is currently only provided in schools through the third grade, but the committee recommends these skills be taught across all grade levels.
“I want to commend the members on this joint committee for their thorough and informative work,” Speaker Rosenberger said. “Their collaborative and organized process has brought forward a series of recommendations that can truly make a difference in the lives of Ohio’s students. As we continue to find ways to curtail opioid abuse in the state, there is nothing more important than ensuring that our children are aware of the dangers of drug addiction and how it can ruin their futures and rob them of a healthy, successful life. I want to also thank Representatives Robert Sprague, Terry Johnson, and Heather Bishoff for their work on the committee and to all the members for their efforts in keeping Ohio’s kids drug free.”
“We know that early education is key to keeping our children from trying drugs, and we must be consistent and unified in our message that substance abuse can devastate their lives and their futures,” said Senate President Obhof. “I appreciate all the work by this committee to ensure this message is loud and strong in every community in Ohio.”
The group also recommended that before and after school programs coordinate with schools to reinforce drug-free messages and that schools and communities incorporate ongoing assessments to evaluate current trends and the effectiveness of preventative strategies.
The group recommended that law enforcement continue its presence in schools in an effort to advocate for drug-free lifestyles and that law enforcement and other officials work with parent/teacher organizations to ensure that caregivers understand the importance of substance abuse prevention education also being taught at home.
In total, the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education issued 15 recommendations. The complete report is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
Copies of the report will be provided to schools and communities across the state, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and members of the Ohio General Assembly.