'Drug plague': CQ schools' alarmingly young drug offenders
STUDENTS are involved with drugs, alcohol and tobacco as early as Year 3 in Central Queensland schools.
Department of Education data reveals 247 students were suspended in 2016 for "substance misconduct" involving illicit drugs, tobacco and other legal substances.
The youngest illegal drug offenders were in Year 6, resulting in two suspensions and one exclusion, and the majority were in Year 10 with 31 recorded.
The Year 10 cohort also had the highest number of students involved with tobacco and legal substances at 48.
A total of 78 illicit substance suspensions and exclusions were recorded in 2016, and a total of 169 involving legal substances.
These kids fit into a broader picture of drug use in Queensland state schools, with the estimates hearing revealing more than 5,700 drug related incidents were recorded in Queensland schools since 2015; more than 3,000 involve illicit substances.
LNP Shadow Minister for Education Tracy Davis used these figures in an attack on Education Minister Kate Jones with claims almost 600 drug incidents are "plaguing our schools" each month.
"More concerning is the number of drug related suspensions have jumped to more than 1,000 in 2016," she said.
"Sadly, despite Labor making much noise about the 'ice corridor' the Education Minister could not answer if schools in this corridor were being targeted.
"Thousands of drug matters happening in our schools says we have a serious problem.
"During the estimates hearing the Minister revealed 34 primary school students, these are children under 12 years of age, had been caught with drugs at schools.
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"We need more action by this Government and the part-time Education Minister to tackle this growing scourge in our school communities."
But Ms Jones has hit back and said Labor has led a 15% reduction in the number of tobacco, alcohol and other drug-related suspensions since coming into government.
She said the government was working to support all students to make positive choices and make the most of their education.
"It's really disappointing the LNP have used the Estimates process to target state schools and the great work our teachers are doing in our classrooms," Ms Jones said.
"Drug-related suspensions are down from a high of 3,200 under the LNP in 2014 to 2,800 last year."
Ms Jones applauded schools for their efforts supporting students, and said while enrolments had grown by more than 30,000 students, drug-related issues are on the decline.