It’s a frightening sign of our times, but Healthy Harold has been given a very 2016 upgrade; the infamous giraffe will soon be teaching Australian primary school students about the dangers of ice and other illegal drugs.
Students as young as 11 years old will learn about the different forms that the drug is available in – including “small, chunky clear crystals” – and the stimulant effects it has on the body and brain when the Life Education van next pulls into the schoolyard.
Year five and six pupils will also be taught about the come-down effects of illicit substances, with particular focus on “sweating, headaches and anxiety”, The Age reports.
The moves comes after an increasing number of schools requested an overhaul of the not-for-profit organisation’s syllabus in line with startling statistics which reveal Australia has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the world.
In fact, according to Fairfax Media, a number of school principals in Victoria have been reduced to breaking point by students attending school while clearly affected by the drug; some even reported having to assign teachers to work in pairs for their own safety.
One head teacher, who didn’t want to be named for fear of the reputation of their school, claimed that a former student had, while in the throes of a psychotic episode brought about by ice use, driven his car into the school and run through the office, barefoot.
“We identified a need,” explained Robyn Richardson, Life Education Australia’s national manager of program development. “We want to make sure that students really understand the facts so they can make informed decisions.
“It will be age-appropriate and teach them about safe decision making in the context of drugs.”
Ms Richardson did stress that the program, which has been running in Australian schools for 36 years, would still be covering the usual topics of nutrition and physical activity, safety and positive relationships.
The new program will be available in two versions, one with the topic of illegal drugs and one without, and schools will be given a choice as to which they would prefer to have taught when it rolls out in term four.
It’s worth noting that, although this is the first time the much-loved giraffe will be discussing illegal drugs, he has always taught about the dangers of legal drugs like tobacco, alcohol and caffeine.
What do you think? Should 11- and 12-year-olds be learning about illegal drugs?