ROCKY POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County leads New York state in a truly tragic statistic – the spiraling number of heroin and opioid overdose deaths.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, a group of parents who have lost children to the epidemic said Thursday that the time has come for Long Island schools to provide earlier intervention.
“We need to shout from the rooftops that we need to look out for the next generation of kids!” said Tracey Farrell of Rocky Point.
Farrell stood with other parents forced to bury their children from heroin and opioid overdoses. Her son, Kevin, overdosed in 2012, and in the five year since, overdose deaths in the county have tripled.
Now, the parents are left holding onto memories and photos of their lost children. They say it is time for dedicated classroom instruction on the dangers of opioids, beginning in the elementary schools.
“Show them pictures of all the children that have died,” said Lauren Nardone of Rocky Point. “Show the parents and what has happened to them. Show them at the gravesite.”
Ann Mattarella’s son overdosed two years ago.
“My son admitted to me he started smoking pot when he was just 12 years old,” Mattarella said. “They have to be stopped before they even try.”
But Lorraine Deller, executive director of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association, said one size does not fit all school districts when it comes to drug curriculum.
“Our schools understand each district, and each community is treating these things differently,” Deller said.
Deller said instead of a mandatory opioid drug class, Long Island school boards preferred setting up a drug recovery high school. But state lawmakers did not act on the proposal before going on summer break.
The parent s said they will deliver their demands to Albany.
“I don’t care if we have to go to the Department of Education in the state, because no one is willing to step up,” Farrell said.
Some Long Island lawmakers said they will propose setting up alternative recovery high school education through the three Boards of Cooperative Educational Services campuses islandwide.