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Posted at 7:09 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Gambling teaches the wrong lessons

By Bob Cabaniss, Hanover, Va.

Regarding the Nov. 29 Metro story “A Falls Church school gambles on using poker as an education tool”:

While I applaud George Mason High School in Falls Church for its classroom ingenuity and ability to engage its students, I worry about the long-term implications of including gambling in lesson plans. At our center, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of young adults entering our treatment programs for gambling addiction. Although a powerful teaching tool, the gambling slope is a slippery one.

More than half of problem gamblers gamble for the first time between the ages of 10 and 17. The risk is high. It’s imperative that teachers, parents and mentors be aware of the dangers of youth and teen gambling, even if it takes place in the classroom.

Problem gambling is not an isolated illness. Often, our clinical team treats massive depressive disorders, emotional disorders and substance abuse, because they commonly occur with problem gambling. The positive outcomes of teaching with poker do not outweigh the social and mental health dangers gambling presents to America’s youth.

The writer is executive director of the Williamsville Wellness Center.

By Bob Cabaniss, Hanover, Va.  | December 3, 2010; 7:09 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, education, schools  
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