The West

Schools new frontier for drug trade
Schools ‘new frontier’ for drug trade

Drug dealers are turning to Geraldton secondary school pupils to push illicit substances, according to a drug rehabilitation counsellor.

Drug Arm WA Geraldton services manager John Hopkins said dealers were passing drugs into the hands of students to peddle.

He believes the practice is “prevalent in Geraldton” after Drug Arm patients exposed the issue.

He said the dealers could be honing in on schools as a new market.

“They realise possibly that this is where their new market is,” he said.

“I’ve had several people that I’ve dealt with at the rehab facility that have been involved or know someone who has been involved in wheeling and dealing with kids.”

He said child dealers could allow their “big boy” counterparts to deal from afar.

“They’re (schools) so strict now if they (the dealers) hang around fences too long they will be questioned so if they can get anyone on the inside that’ll be fine,” he said.

He said they were almost like psychologists in their ability to take advantage of the vulnerable.

“They can spot stress in anybody,” he said.

“They hone in on their next victim who could become a wheeler and dealer.”

Mid West Gascoyne Licensing Enforcement Unit Sgt Shane Hickman said police were aware of incidents where school children as young as 14 years old had been taking drugs, mostly cannabis.

But he said drug dealing in schools wasn’t a trend police were aware of.

“Police would certainly act on it without question,” he said of the trade.

“There’s no lower act than using children to peddle drugs. There’s not a trend we’re aware of, but that’s not to say it’s not happening.”

Mr Hopkins last month kicked off a series of seminars with Rangeway Primary School pupils, highlighting dangers of drugs and alcohol.

The seminars use graphic images of physical injuries of drug use.

Mr Hopkins said stronger education of drug use was needed.

Department of Education Midwest regional director Stephen Baxter said there was no evidence of drug dealing at Geraldton’s public schools.

“There are strict policies in place to deal with students who bring illegal drugs to school,” he said.

“This may include suspension, counselling by the school nurse and referral to police.”

He said the department supported the School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA) strategy.

“These efforts will only be successful if they are supported by parents, caregivers and friends reinforcing the messages outside school hours.”

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