Be Safe Initiative targets bath salts problem in the schools

The fight against bath salts and synthetic drugs is about to move from head shops into the classroom.

The members of the Onondaga County Legislature's Health Committee were briefed today about the upcoming "Be Safe Initiative" (Bath Salts Awareness and Education Initiative).

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Doctor Cynthia Morrow describes the program as an effort to work with school districts to inform students of the dangers of synthetic drugs. She says the program would be separate from existing drug education programs in the schools.

Dr. Morrow says the Be Safe Initiative is being developed with the cooperation of the Mental Health Department, the Prevention Network and Poison Control.

Morrow says last year Poison Control received only a handful of calls about overdoses associated with bath salts and other synthetic drugs. So far this year, the center has received 341 calls.

Dr. Morrow says her first priority is to increase the number of "trainers" who would assist schools and community organizations to become part of the initiative. Once trainers are in place, Morrow says school districts and educational institutions will be brought in to develop the types of curriculum needed.

She envisions a webinar that could reach out to classrooms county-wide. Students taking part in the webinar could earn grades as part of the program. Morrow says a separate webinar could be developed for parents to better understand the dangers of synthetic drugs.

The Be Safe Initiate could cost taxpayers $21,000 but legislator Patrick Kilmartin says, "If we can prevent one child, one individual from engaging in these substances, just in terms of manpower from police services, health services... it would be a great investment to make."