Prosecutor’s Office looks to combat early drug use by educating area children


By Staff Report

Muskingum County Prosecutor Ron Welch is hoping to educate area child and their parents about the dangers of drug use after a recent survey found as many as one-third of local high schoolers couldn’t identify the potential hazards of Fentanyl and other laced drugs.

“If we don’t educate them, then there is no hope of them making a good decision if they don’t have the proper tools, the proper education to decide,” said Welch to county commissioners Monday.

Welch told commissioners his request was that some of the funds the county is set to receive as part of the Opioid Settlement be used to purchase flyers and age-appropriate educational films that can be shown to students at area school districts.

“We’re firmly convinced that based upon the things that we deal with that waiting until high school is too late to educate,” said Welch who added that he was hoping to target students in either sixth or seventh grade.

According to Welch, that is also a grade when many parents and guardians attend orientations at the schools, meaning that parents can be involved in the discussions around drug use by students.

Those who have run-ins with his office report starting Marijuana by age 13 and pills by 15, Welch stated, citing the need for early education and intervention.

Many students are reportedly taking Xanax as well as Adderall recreationally but Welch said that the pills are nearly always coming back from testing with other compounds present, getting students hooked on narcotics such as Fentanyl.

“We certainly appreciate you and applaud you for doing it because whatever we’re doing isn’t working,” said Commissioner Cindy Cameron.

Welch said he worries that drug use is glorified in the media, on social media, in music, film and television, and that it presents children with the perception that everyone is doing drugs and that they are having a great time doing them.

The reality is anything but, Welch added, who has seen and handled cases involving young overdose deaths.

“If they don’t lose their life, their losing their lives to addiction,” Welch told commissioners.

Now that commissioners have given their verbal commitment to funding the project, Welch will work with those in his office as well as local superintendents over the summer to create the program.