In many societies gambling has become a very popular activity. There are many forms of gambling, some legal and some illegal, and many people are involved in it. At one end of the continuum there are persons who may occasionally indulge in harmless social gambling, such as the purchase of a few lottery tickets, while, at the other end there are persons who have become hopelessly addicted to gambling. Some students are exposed to various types of gambling at home; others may be introduced to it by their peers, and they may not know that it is highly addictive.
From my experience, most forms of gambling in schools are illegal. Students will often bet on the outcome of games and sports, and they will bet on card games and dice. Card games and dice can create major problems in schools. Administrators must have a zero tolerance policy towards gambling.
According to High School Gambling Fact Sheet, many teenagers try out gambling activities. Here are some of the statistics given: 60 – 80% of high school students report gambling for money during the past year. 4 – 6% of them are addicted to gambling, and another 6 – 8% are at risk of developing a serious gambling problem. Interestingly, boys gamble more than girls.
Problem gambling occurs when one loses control over the amount of time and money one spends on gambling, despite adverse consequences. Some of the problems manifested by habitual gamblers in school are: Poor grades in school assignments, stealing and lying, borrowing money and not repaying, fighting when they lose, extortion of money from younger students, and having money or debt that they can’t explain satisfactorily. These forms of behavior cannot be tolerated or they will do harm to the climate and safety of the school.
In order to eliminate or drastically reduce gambling, schools must educate their students about the dangers of gambling. Resource persons from various social agencies, such as the police and counselling organizations, can be very useful in this respect. The parents of students identified as gamblers must be involved in this process.
School administrators must put measures in place to identify those students who are involved in gambling at school. They must be monitored on a continuous basis and the areas they frequent must be checked for any sign of this illegal activity. They will change the location of their gambling activities very often and they will post sentries to warn them of the approach of any person who will report them to school authorities. Administrators must be aware of these moves and must remain on top of the situation. They must also encourage students who are opposed to gambling to alert them quietly if they notice any sign of this activity. Management By Walking Around is useful in the prevention of gambling, since offenders know that administrators can show up anywhere at any time.
Any students who are caught gambling must receive the full force of the penalties prescribed by the school’s code of discipline. This would normally include suspension from school and a conference with the students, their parents and school officials. The students can also be referred to other social agencies for further assistance or punishment as the situation merits. Intractable cases may have to be solved by expelling the offenders from school.
Gambling in schools is illegal. If it is not eradicated it will detract from the culture and performance of the school and create many points of conflict and negative influence among students. It disrupts the delivery of education in many respects.