Panel discussing heroin prevention program for schools

Jun 13, 2014

Illinois schools might be asked to teach students about the dangers of heroin use. It would be part of a series of recommendations being discussed by a special task force.

There are two task forces in Illinois trying to address the state's heroin crisis, which has especially been felt in the greater Chicago-area.

One of the panels is focusing on heroin use among teens and young adults. Some parents have complained that schools haven't been willing enough to create awareness in the classroom. State Representative John Cabello sits on the youth task force, which met this week.

The Rockford-area Republican says there needs to be a shift in how the problem is viewed.

"It's always been a dirty little secret. [But] so many people are dying that we need to bring this dirty secret out to light."

Cabello, who also sits on the other heroin task force, says they've heard testimony from former addicts who started using heroin at age 12. He says that's why they may push to have educational programs offered to kids as young as 8-years-old as a way to get a ahead of the problem before it starts.

Cabello says whatever is recommended to the legislature, he hopes it would not be an unfunded mandate.

This task force was facing a June 30th deadline to issue its report. But members say it appears they'll need an extension.