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May 9, 2016 Heather Norton

We’re in this together

Firbank Panel Night

Parent Guides Panel Night at Firbank for Drugs 101

Our aim at Firbank is to help students develop the confidence, courage and skills they need to make their mark in their own world and in the world they will enter.

Firbank is a school where students not only aspire, but they ‘do’. It is the place where students, particularly adolescents, form the beliefs and values that will set them up for their life journey. Our school values of courage, respect, compassion, curiosity and integrity are key. But we have to live those values. And many of those values are pertinent to the issue tackled in Drugs 101.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be a young person today when drugs, including alcohol, are so readily available. The accessibility provides the opportunity for the wrong decision to be made and a lifetime of hope and promise is derailed. I have always believed that the world of drugs is a slippery slope and it is far easier to go down that slope than to climb back up.

The best form of defence against drugs is attack and that means arming our students with knowledge. Parents also need to have accurate and up-to-date information so they can start a transparent and honest conversation with their child. You will often learn things you don’t want to hear but, when parents and children are armed with the same knowledge, then the conversation can be one which is based in reality.

In 2015 we commenced the values journey at Firbank with COURAGE. There are huge acts of courage but courage is also encouraging students to listen to that small voice inside that tells them right from wrong, that gives them the courage to stand up and say ‘I don’t want to be part of this’ and to remove themselves from a situation.

Our value of respect includes maintaining self-respect around drugs and it’s having respect for their friends to get them out of worrying situations too – to be a friend and to look after each other.

Heather Norton

Heather Norton, Principal at Firbank Grammar

We also foster curiosity at Firbank Grammar. We want our students to take risks but to engage in safe risks and to realise there are highs in life that don’t require drugs or alcohol. For example, there is that wonderful sense of achievement you get through being compassionate and knowing you’ve made a difference to someone else’s life, or through working hard to achieve a test score of which you are proud or of acting together in a sporting team, an ensemble or a class group to reach a goal.

Many parents, understandably, don’t know how to start the conversation, or they worry about what they may discover. The time for action is now, before our children confront a situation for which they could conceivably be ill prepared. Being armed with accurate information and not catastrophising is important but most importantly your willingness to listen is the most powerful. Your child needs to know that they can seek support, know you will be available to hear them and are keen to share in learning more – as a family.

We are on this journey together. You as parents are the most important people in our young people’s lives but schools are part of the formula. I think it is part of our responsibility to provide the information in Drugs 101 and to give you access to people working in the field who can answer your questions.

Parent Guides works closely with secondary schools to produce parent information nights that bring together experts, teachers and families to discuss issues covered in our guides. These events are open, honest and invaluable; empowering school staff and parents with information and ideas to start important conversations with teenagers. If you’re interested in holding a panel night at your school, get in touch with us via our contact page.