MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – One Myrtle Beach city council member wants to see more focus on the heroin and opioid problem in school lesson plans. Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat is asking Operation Prevention be started as a pilot program in Myrtle Beach area schools before going county wide.
The program is funded by the DEA and created by Discovery Education. The curriculum would be taught to all age levels through senior year of high school.
“There are more opioid prescriptions written in Horry County than there are people,” Jeffcoat said Wednesday. She said to tackle this, more needs to do be done to focus on prevention. “If we don’t start with our kids when they’re young and prevent it, it’s hard to cure them.”
Operation Prevention is free and downloadable and focuses on kids eight to 18. “And here’s the beauty of it,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s not a new program. It’s designed to fit into the existing curriculum.”
News13 reached out to Horry County Schools Wednesday to see what kids currently learn. Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier replied:
Drug education is included in the curriculum for all students in our Comprehensive Health Standards in elementary, middle and high school. Below is a link to the 2017 SC Health Standards.
HCS provides drug education and awareness in multiple grades and through multiple venues. For example, all of our middle and high schools also have extracurricular activities that provide information on drug and alcohol abuse and many of our high schools have an advisory period and drug awareness is one of the topics discussed during this period. We are also very fortunate to have community support from our local law enforcement and Solicitor’s Office who provides numerous activities surrounding drug awareness and making good choices in life.
But Jeffcoat said she does not think it is as comprehensive as the Operation Prevention curriculum.
You may remember the D.A.R.E program taught nationwide and in Horry County Schools. Jeffcoat said she sees some similarities, but D.A.R.E primarily focused on elementary and middle school ages. “There was no follow up,” she said. “So this program is good in that it follows the kids all the way through high school.”
She said other districts in the state have cited initial success with Operation Prevention, but also said Horry County does not necessarily have to pick that program.
“I’m just saying that we need something in the schools on a regular basis for every age group. Every day, talking about avoiding addiction. Particularly heroin and opioids.”
The city has not in any way formally presented the program to the district, but Jeffcoat said she hopes to see a pilot program in place next school year.
When asked if drug use is a growing problem in our schools, she said a new heroin/opioid study the city is partnering on with the county should give them a better idea of where the drugs are coming from and who is buying them.