Gwinnett County Public Schools’ Health and Physical Education curriculum addresses drug abuse and violence prevention in an age-appropriate manner in grades K-12. For example, in kindergarten and first grade, students focus on the safe and appropriate use of medications and recognize that tobacco and alcohol are drugs. At the middle school level, students analyze the impact of drug use on individuals, families, and society. They also discuss the school rules, policies, and state and federal laws associated with drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. In addition, middle schoolers discuss in greater detail the harmful effects of specific drugs. The high school "Introduction to Health" class focuses on the roles and responsibilities of individuals, the community, and government related to drug prevention and control. The impact of drug use on personal goals, educational opportunities, and future occupational potential are discussed, as well.
Skills for violence prevention are woven throughout the health curriculum, as well. Students examine and discuss positive choices, appropriate expressions of emotion, accepting responsibility for one’s actions, and good communication skills. Students learn that self-discipline and using good communication skills can resolve conflict. In middle and high school, students examine the effects of stress, learn violence prevention techniques, and assess the positive effects of conflict resolution.
In addition to the Health and P.E. curriculum, counselors at all school levels address drug and violence prevention issues. Counselors work with students on an individual basis and in small groups, and as classes. The advisement programs are designed to promote a positive school climate where each student has a staff member that they can go to for support and guidance.
Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program
The Safe and Drug Free Schools Program specifically targets the areas of violence and drug abuse. At every school level, GCPS provides prevention and intervention programs to promote a drug-free and safe environment conducive to learning. Programs include:
- ADVANCE-- This program for 5th graders provides information on alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and violence. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department teaches eight classroom sessions at all elementary schools.
- Care Teams-- All schools have a committee of staff and community members who help families with social, economic, and health needs to foster a fertile environment for children to grow into productive and capable learners.
- Teen Institute-- This opportunity provides leadership training through discussions and skill-building activities. Students work in teams to plan and carry out community service activities throughout the school year.
- Towards No Tobacco Use (TNT)-- An educational research-based program for students who are found using tobacco products on school grounds. It engages parents and students in dialogue and activities, covering the health and social consequences of tobacco use, stress, and peer pressure.
- CLFC, Creating Lasting Family Connections Program-- Deemed as a Model/Exemplary Program by the Department of Education. This educational alternative, assigned to students with drug and alcohol violations, offers families four, two-hour evening sessions to explore the physical and social consequences of drug use.
- Safe and Drug-Free School National Coordinator Program-- Additional grant funds provide two coordinators who focus on prevention and intervention efforts at one high school.
- SOS, Signs of Suicide-- This prevention program taught to all 9th graders instructs students in recognizing signs of depression in themselves and others. Students learn to be aware of serious problems, healthy responses to those problems, and how to avoid the tragedy of suicide.
- After-school program support-- Funds have provided technical and financial support to schools. Teachers received training in the Mendez after-school curriculum "Too Good for Drugs and Violence."
- WHY TRY-- A character education program that consists of 10 visual analogies (pictures) that relate to specific problems and special challenges that at-risk youth face in their every day lives. Each picture includes various solutions and questions, to help youth gain insight in dealing with their own challenges.
- Consultation-- Ongoing consultation with local school administrative teams on class management, positive school culture, and best practices for safe schools.
- Ruby Payne's Poverty Training-- Professional development on understanding poverty issues and student achievement for local school staff.
- Second Step-- Second Step’s overall goal is to encourage students to practice pro-social behavior. By understanding their emotions and how to respond to them, young students remain focused on academics. The Second Step, third edition curriculum focuses on the three essential competencies—empathy, impulse control, problem solving, and anger management.