(TRENTON) - The Assembly Education Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Daniel Benson to require the state Department of Education to develop educational fact sheet for distribution to parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders concerning use and misuse of prescription opioids.
"This bill ensures that young people and their parents are educated as early as possible about the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "It is critical to provide this information to students who participate in athletics to make certain that, in the event they are prescribed an opioid for an injury, they will be fully knowledgeable of the risks of misuse."
"Prescription drug abuse has taken a heartbreaking toll on many young residents and their families," said Lagana (D-Bergen, Passaic). "Student-athletes are more vulnerable than others due to injuries that may occur while playing a sport. We must step up efforts to inform parents about the potential of opioid abuse and how to prevent it from happening to their children."
The bill (A-3944) requires the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop an educational fact sheet that provides information concerning the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event that a student-athlete or cheerleader is prescribed an opioid for a sports-related injury.
"Opioid and prescription drug abuse is a serious problem among student athletes, many of which say it all began with a prescription given for an injury," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Effective prevention begins with awareness. This bill helps to get the word out to all student-athletes and families about the dangers of opioid abuse."
"Opioid abuse is a nationwide epidemic that is rapidly rising, particularly, among students-athletes," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Cautioning parents and students about the medicine they choose to take when injured may save a life from potential abuse and addiction."
The bill requires school districts and nonpublic schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading programs to distribute the fact sheet annually to the parents or guardians of student-athletes and cheerleaders, and to obtain a signed acknowledgement of the receipt of the fact sheet by the student and his parent or guardian.
The legislation will now be further reviewed by the Assembly Speaker.