Drug dealers in our schools

DRUG dealers are infiltrating the region’s schoolyards by recruiting teenagers at popular hangouts to do their drug running.

Shopping centres and transport hubs are where vulnerable youths are being targeted by dealers known to them or through extended friends, a local youth worker believes.

Youth programs case manager PJ Black, from the Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC), spoke to The Northern Star about the youth drug culture following a report from the Department of Education detailing the high incidence of drugs in schools throughout the region.

Mr Black works with youths on a daily basis, many of whom approach him worried about a friend’s or family member’s involvement with drugs.

He said the dealers targeting teenagers are involved in “very organised criminal activity”.

“There is an availability of drugs at hot spots” he said.

“I won’t name names but at transport places and shopping centres where young people go is where (dealers) ply their trades.

“It’s not in places of education but it happens to and from [school].

“Dealers are at these places and are working with a young person who becomes the runner. The runners go to the school and gives it to their friends.

“It’s very organised criminal activity and very calculated. [Drug dealers] play for keeps.”

Young people are lured into running drugs on promises of “freebies for first-timers” and low prices. “Runners tend to be users themselves,” he said.

“For them, it’s about the party and they do not think about the consequences. [Ecstasy] is easier to access then alcohol and it’s cheaper.”

While youth drug use is an issue nationwide, the problem is significant in the Northern Rivers because it is an accepted norm, Mr Black said.

“I’ve worked in different places around Australia and although it’s prominent, it’s significant in the Northern Rivers because there is a culture of acceptance,” he said.

“[Young people are using drugs] in the Northern Rivers because, for one, boredom, particularly in Casino and Kyogle.

“The fewer things for them to do, the more things they are going to look for. The culture of acceptance suggests availability in the region.”

The Get It Together program run by the NRSDC takes a “realist” approach to drug use and encourages kids to be safe to themselves, friends and family.

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