For the sake of Ohio’s children and their families, it is time for educators to stand up and engage in the fight against what state officials are calling an epidemic of heroin. That was the call made this week to members of the Alliance for High Quality Education Heroin Summit in Columbus.

That there is a need for such action is not in question. According to statistics from the Department of Health, 2012 saw the number of deaths due to accidental drug overdoses hit a record 1,914. Officials say 680 of those deaths were due to heroin overdoses, up 60 percent from the previous year. 

The overriding message state officials delivered to educators at the summit at Worthington Kilbourne High School was that they need to be part of the solution. As Gov. John Kasich put it, “Make a decision, cause a controversy, so what.” He said if it saves a child’s life and a family from heartache, it will be worth it.

The appeal is reportedly an extension of the governor’s recently launched “Start Talking” anti-drug program. The thrust of that initiative is to encourage parents and teachers to openly talk about the drug abuse problem and to urge children to stay off drugs.

As laudable as the message is, some legal observers might suggest some caution as well. Such rhetoric could spark overzealous and illegal police action against drug trafficking suspects. Indeed, such activity is already an issue in many cases, which is why anyone facing such allegations should be prepared to protect their rights in consultation with an experienced attorney.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, “Educators, state officials gather to talk about heroin epidemic,” Alan Johnson, April 29, 2014