Giving Compass' Take:

• In this post, a teacher describes her experience at a school that is addressing a prescription pill problem among students that are going through adverse childhood experiences. 

• How can school districts provide more mental health support for students that go through adverse childhood experiences? 

• Read more on how to make an impact on adverse childhood experiences. 


When four ambulances arrived at school in 2015 to transport middle school students who had taken prescription drugs in the classroom, it was a career first for me. We had made so much progress as a school community to improve student behavior in the classroom that year, having reduced disciplinary referrals by 25 percent. However, as the sirens blared that morning, I realized classroom behavior was just the tip of the iceberg. If we really wanted to improve student behavior, we needed to take a deeper look at what was happening in their lives.

We’re lucky we found out about this situation, it easily could have gone under the radar. After witnessing a peer passing out pills during class, a student I was close with came to me expressing concern. I was a little surprised. This student had some disciplinary problems of her own and didn’t need to come to me with the information, but I was glad she did.

Our school serves a high population of students facing poverty. With over 56 percent of students receiving free and reduced lunch meals and a median household income of around $24,000, poverty is prevalent in our community. Many of our students live in homes impacted by drug addiction and have incarcerated family members.

Our kids are faced with major obstacles outside of school. The day the ambulances came, we started to recognize that these challenges—whether they happen inside or outside of the school—shape the learning experience for our students. This pill incident woke up our school community.

Read the full article about prescription pill emergency by Amy Mason at EdSurge