Listen to children’s concerns on smoking

I am the sixth-grade science/social studies teacher at Mayfield Elementary School. Since the beginning of the year, Mrs. Bridget Rocco, from Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery counties, has come in once a week to address each class about character, bullying and now we are listening to her speak to drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.

Recently, she brought Justin Hladik and Sarah Kraemer from Fulton County’s Reality Check with her. They had the students in the palms of their hands. They used a slideshow to show the children ways big business targets them for (as they are called) replacement consumers. (Our kids are being groomed to take place of smokers who have either successfully quit or have died). My students were really angry about this potential space they are expected to occupy.

Justin and Sarah also talked about smoking in movies. The children concluded smoking does not change the outcome of movies, so why have people smoking in them? They know that people smoke to relieve stress, they know that advertising was meant to suck them in and they have to be strong against that. They know that Fulton County has the highest smoking rate in New York state. They also know about secondhand and even thirdhand smoke. They have seen a healthy lung and a picture of a diseased lung, black with tar. They have seen pictures of people who chewed tobacco and ended up losing their teeth, tongue and jaws to cancer.

When Bridget, Justin and Sara left, Reality Check had made their mark on my sixth-graders. Please pay attention if your child complains about your cigarette smoking. We are raising a generation of smart individuals. Don’t sell these kids short. They are much smarter than you think.

By the way, with all the impending budget cuts that are about to be imposed, please speak up for Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery counties and Fulton-Montgomery County Reality Check. They are two organizations that provide needed services in our area, to our most important resource: our children.


Teacher at Mayfield Elementary School