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PEPtalk – Prevention Empowering Parents and Pupils

PEPtalk is a parent initiative which aims to provide NMS parents with information about preventing addiction. We work closely with the teachers and educators to build on the school prevention programme.

​I​f you are concerned about a student or an incident at school, please contact one of the following staff members confidentially:

NMS Primary contacts:
– class educator (via email or your child’s log book)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Head of Educator Team)
school guidance counsellor, Sophia Calligaro. You can request an appointment via this email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NMS Secondary contacts:
– any secondary educator
– a designated teacher counsellor (Vertrauenslehrer): Ms Birmingham, Dr Milena
– the addiction prevention coordinator: Herr Czwielong.

If you have any questions or would like to join our team, please get in touch!

Recent prevention projects:

Addiction Prevention

Addiction Prevention parent evening with the Berlin Police – October 2018

In case you missed this informative parents’ evening with police prevention officer, Ms Michel, here are some useful facts and tips.

When should I start worrying about drugs and alcohol?

In Berlin, the average age at which young people first come into contact with drugs is 11-13 years. The most commonly available drugs are cannabis, alcohol and amphetamines.

Is cannabis legal in Germany? What happens if you get caught?

No! Even if you have heard rumours that cannabis is legal or tolerated in Berlin, it is an illegal drug. If a young person is found by the police to be in possession of or consuming the drug, this will be recorded and shared with the driving licence authorities.

The consequences for young people are serious and expensive! When you apply for a driving licence, the records are checked. If you have a drugs record, you will have to take regular official drugs tests for 1 year before you are even allowed to start driving lessons! And you have to pay the costs yourself (approx. 1500 Euros).

If a young person gets a criminal record for a drug-related offence, the Jugendamt (youth welfare office) will be informed and this may result in checks on the family. The young person will also be required to attend therapy sessions with a drugs counselling organisation (such as LogIn).

What are the warning signs that a teenager is using drugs?

Here are some warning signals that a child may be using drugs:

  • red eyes and dilated pupils
  • if you find unusual items in your child’s bedroom which may be used as hiding places for drugs (e.g. cans of soup or drinks)
  • if you find shiny, colourful sachets (similar to football card packets) with cartoon characters on them (e.g. Homer Simpson, Scooby Doo). These can contain extremely dangerous (life threatening) synthetic drugs which are deliberately targeted at kids. You should report this to the police.

What can I do if I suspect my teenager is consuming drugs?

If you are concerned about your child, other students or an incident at school, you can contact one of the following staff members confidentially:
– any secondary educator
– a designated teacher counsellor (Vertrauenslehrerin): Ms Birmingham
– the addiction prevention coordinator: Herr Czwielong.

You can also seek advice confidentially (in English or German) at LogIn, centre for young people and addiction advice for Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

What can I do as a parent to reduce the risk of my child taking drugs?

Here are some things parents can do to support their teenage children:

  • try to maintain an open and trusting relationship with your children
  • encourage them to feel confident talking to you about their concerns and experiences
  • encourage them to be physically active and regularly take part in sports activities
  • make sure you and your children are well-informed about the risks and effects on physical and mental health

You can find more information about the effects on brain development in the notes from Anne Wilkening’s workshop for parents.

Remember, it’s important for parents to support each other – keep in touch with other parents and don’t be afraid to seek help if you have concerns.

Here are some useful resources on drugs prevention:

From the Berlin Police (in German only):

Information brochure for parents from Berlin Police (downloadable PDF)

https://www.polizeifürdich.de/deine-themen/drogen.html

 Online resources in English:

What to Say to Your Teenager About Drugs (13-18 year olds):

https://drugfree.org/article/prevention-tips-for-every-age/#tips4

Advice for parents and carers worried about drug use:

https://www.talktofrank.com/worried-about-a-child

Advice for parents, scenarios for role-playing:  http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/Helping-Teens-Resist-Pressure-to-Try-Drugs.aspx

Parent guide to understanding and talking about peer pressure: https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/alcohol/peer-pressure/

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying – Parents’ evening with Berlin Police (January & February 2018)

In case you missed this informative parents’ evening with police prevention officer, Ms Janneck, here are some useful facts and tips.

What is cyberbullying?
When several people bully an individual via social media over a longer period of time (according to German law, more than 4 weeks). Cyberbullying among children most frequently occurs on Whatsapp within a class group. Incidents are usually initiated by one or two bullies but supported by others children who forward messages/do not speak out against them.

Here are some warning signals that a child may be a victim of bullying:   

  • not wanting to go to school (or other social settings), they may claim to be ill in order to stay home.
  • withdrawing from social circles
  • noticeable changes in behavior
  • trivialising incidents they have experienced
  • withdrawing into an imaginary world (e.g. imaginary friends)

If you a concerned that your child is involved in/a victim of cyberbullying, you should contact the class teachers or educators. If caught early, such incidents can often be resolved through mediation.

If bullying is suspected, do not delete the messages/images as these provide evidence.

Legal consequences of cyberbullying
Insulting or threatening someone online is a criminal offence. Children who participate in cyberbullying (even by forwarding offensive messages/images /videos which were sent by others) are committing a criminal offence.

Children over the age of 14 years are considered criminally responsible in Germany, so if a cyberbullying incident is reported to the police, this could lead to a criminal record and details being stored by the police for several years. This can affect a young person’s chances of finding a job or entering certain professions (which require a police check).

How can parents help their children to avoid involvement in bullying?

  • Help your child to pay attention to safety settings and age limits online (e.g. Whatsapp minimum age 13!)
  • Show interest in their online activities, e.g. ask them to show you how the games/sites they use work
  • Discourage children from giving away personal information/images etc. online
  • Set clear rules about time and activities online
  • Keep communication channels open and encourage your child to speak to you if they think messages/images are inappropriate
  • Help them recognise the difference between ‘online friends’ and ‘real friends’

Online resources in German:

Online resources in English:

Empowering Parents

Empowering Parents seminar (May 2017)

Thanks to all the parents who attended the fascinating and thought-provoking seminar by Anne Wilkening in April 2016. We learnt lots of interesting facts about what happens to the brain during puberty and got some practical tips on how to talk to our kids about gaming and substance abuse. And many of us had some interesting conversations with our kids the next day!

You'll find a wealth of information (in German only) on this website:

Here are a few important things we learnt:

About healthy media use:
Did you know that too much gaming actually causes you to gain weight?
Playing fast games in particular produces lots of adrenalin which in turn causes your body to produce unhealthy fat. Gaming should always be followed by physical activity!

Here are the maximum recommended weekly time limits for gaming:

  • Over 12 years – max. 6-9 hours per week
  • Under 12 years – max. 4-6 hours per week
  • Under 10 years – max. 2-4 hours per week

The best time to play games/use smartphones/tablets etc. is after getting home from school before homework and long before bedtime! The blue light that screens give off reduces the quality of sleep.

You can find lots of advice about safe gaming and internet use here:

Remember, it is important to know what your child is playing / doing online. Our school IT department has lots of ideas for fun, rewarding media resources you can try out with your kids.

About brain development:
Young people's brains are under construction from puberty until their twenties. Brain development is complete in young women by about age 23 and in young men by their mid- to late twenties.

About cannabis use:
Did you know that cigarette smoking amongst young people in Berlin has decreased but cannabis use has increased? The cannabis currently available in Berlin is 20 times stronger than what was around 15 years ago!

Cannabis also contains high levels of lead and cadmium which it absorbs from the soil.

Smoking cannabis during puberty permanently affects the parts of the brain and curtails brain development.

If you are concerned about someone you know, you can find information and advice on these sites

Delay, delay, delay!
The earlier that young people experiment with substances (alcohol, cannabis etc.), the more harmful and lasting the effects. So encouraging our kids to wait till they are older before they 'try' things out and helping them to find safe, healthy ways to have fun is vital (sports, music, programming and other hobbies).

If you want to read more about these issues, take a look at Anne Wilkening's presentations (in German only):

 

For information on in English, please take a look at: