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South Dakota puts $730,000 towards drug programs in schools

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota is allocating $730,000 to provide evidence-based meth prevention programming in nearly 40 middle schools across the state, a state agency said.

The South Dakota Department of Social Services announced last week that nine prevention providers would receive the funding to support the schools.

“Our youth are at risk, and we need to protect them,” Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill said in a news release. “That starts with education and awareness, and we are pleased to be commit these dollars toward prevention programming.”

But some said that awareness and prevention is not enough, the Argus Leader reported. Rep. Kevin Jensen, vice chair of the state’s “Fighting Methamphetamine Addiction” committee, argued that the state needs to make sure the difference between prevention and awareness is clear.

“Prevention is not a one-time shot, it needs to be continued and reinforced at all ages, especially in high school where the challenges of peer pressure are much higher,” Jensen said last month.

The effort is part of the state’s 2020 budget to spend $1 million for meth treatment. It will run alongside the department’s $450,000 anti-meth campaign, “Meth. We’re On It,” which drew widespread ridicule when it launched in November.

The programming will focus on reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors such as environment characteristics that can support healthy development, the release states.

Each program is expected to draw attention to distinct issues and outcomes. It will also emphasize skill learning such as recognizing and challenging common misconceptions about substance use, practicing resistance skills, and learning personal self-management and social skills, according to the release.

“Our kids are our future, and it’s crucial we teach them the dangers of substance abuse,” Gov. Kristi Noem stated in the release. “These programs are aggressively combating South Dakota’s meth epidemic and teaching our kids how to avoid harmful and addictive substances. Programs like these can have a tremendous impact on our students and our hometowns. It’s time meth is eradicated from our communities.”

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