NORTON, VA - The opioid epidemic has been declared a national health emergency by President Trump. We can feel those national impacts at home as well. Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp says about 95-percent of the court cases he sees in Wise County are somehow tied to drugs.
"Whether it's stealing from someone in order to get drugs...murders, violent crime, DUIs," Slemp says.
He says the root of the issue needs to be addressed.
"We can't prosecute our way out of the drug epidemic. We have to take specific steps in order to prevent crime before it happens," Slemp says.
One of those steps has been taken by Norton Elementary and Middle School, through its "red ribbon week" program. It's focused on drug abuse prevention events.
"It's always important that we make children aware of situations and things that they might be experiencing and not know that there's someone they can come talk to about, or that there's support systems in our schools," says Norton City Schools Superintendent Gina Wohlford.
School principal Scott Addison says education and open communication between students and staff are important ways to help spread the anti-drug message.
"They're really at foundational ages right now. We know that they're learning how to become independent, they're transitioning from where parents were making decisions and now they're making decisions on their own," Addison says.
Drug abuse education, prevention, and awareness events will take place during red ribbon week.
those messages will be continued throughout the school year.