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Drug abuse among school children

Drug abuse among school children

Drug abuse among school children


Mangalore Today News Network

By Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon

Mangaluru, July 3, 2024: Drug abuse is a serious issue affecting all sections of the society, irrespective of age, education or economic status. It is very disheartening to observe that every so often there are reports of school children involved in abusing narcotic drugs, sold by heartless peddlers and shopkeepers. Needless to say, it has become a major problem affecting the children’s education, lives and continues to ravage countless innocent children, across the country.

The negative consequences of drug abuse affect not only children who are misled into abusing drugs but also their families and friends, and government resources. The most obvious effects of drug abuse which are manifested in the children who abuse drugs include ill health, chronic addiction and even sudden death.


Drug abuse



Drugs are distributed from far away secret locations by use of motorcycles and at times by public vehicles, by peddlers. They also distribute the drugs to agents and shopkeepers, operating in the vicinity of schools who swiftly sell them to the gullible youngsters. Some of the children, both boys and girls, are engaged to help in distributing the drugs, in exchange for drugs or money.

Before it’s too late, we all have to pay close attention to this serious hazard. Drugs and substances of abuse has also been associated with non-conducive learning environments. Pupils abusing drugs are more likely to engage in activities that disrupt learning, such as violent behaviour and theft,  resulting in damage and or loss of assets and lives. Drugs and substances are also known to result in low self-esteem and, on aggregate, impact negatively on the quality of education delivery and attainment. Drug use may also increase risky sexual behaviours, leading to increased exposure to HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Learning institutions are becoming a hub for drug sale and consumption, with drug peddlers targeting pupils for recruitment into the business. The substances are being sneaked into schools without detection by school authorities, and are often mixed with juices, soft drinks, confectionaries, and bakery items, to avoid detection.

There is very little study about drug use by school pupils, age for first drug experimentation, prevalence, drug refusal skills, assertiveness, self-control and influence of parenting on drug use and substance abuse. Owing to these gaps, both, Central government and State Governments, should set up a committee, to determine the prevalence, knowledge, attitudes and practices of drugs and substances of abuse among school pupils. The broad objective of the study will be to conduct an assessment on knowledge, attitudes and practices of drugs and substances of abuse among school pupils in each State. The specific objectives include, to:
    i) examine the knowledge and attitudes of drugs and substance abuse among school pupils
    ii) evaluate the extent of availability and access to drugs and substances of abuse among school pupils
    iii)  determine the prevalence of drugs and substance abuse among school pupils
    iv) document the risks and protective factors associated with drugs and substances of abuse among school pupils, and
    v) establish the extent of drug refusal skills, assertiveness skills, relaxations skills, self-control skills, and influence of parenting skills among school pupils. This exercise can even be done by School Principals for their respective schools in association with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

The Ministry of Education, both at the Central and State level, should also make a provision of training in drug education to heads of schools, teachers and school inspectors through in-service courses. The main objective is to create awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and its consequences. In addition, Drug Counselling courses should be made a part of B.Ed. and M.Ed. degree programs.
 
Family factors can either increase the risk or protect children from drug use. There is need to understand how family factors such as the structure of the family, influences drug use among children. Due to complex social changes, and consequent legal changes, children from single-parent families, are at a higher risk of getting addicted to drugs than their counterparts from double-parent families. Single-parent families are progressively replacing the traditional family, which consists of two parents and their children. This phenomenon is on the rise and hardly there are studies done to find out its contribution or lack of it on the rise of drug use among children. Globally, some studies have connected family structure to drug usage by children.

The government should strengthen drug legislation and enforcement in the country to address the issues of drug trafficking, peddling and use. Rehabilitation centres should be set up in every district to enable those already affected to get medical assistance. The government should declare drug use a national disaster so as to marshal the financial and human resources towards addressing this problem. School administrators in conjunction with local municipal administrations, should carry out close surveillance in school neighbourhoods to prevent drug peddlers from selling drugs to students. Students are using all tricks possible to abuse drugs during school hours, during school entertainment programs like sports day, cultural meet and school annual day, and also in hostels and paying guest dormitories.

The intensity of drug abuse is fast becoming a major concern in recent years. It has invaded homes, schools, and workplaces, affecting individuals of all ages and classes. Students as young as 09 to 13 are using alcohol and other drugs, bringing such addictive substances into school and homes, which is a national shame, and needs to be eradicated at all costs. Presently, schools lack proactive strategies to deal with alcohol and drugs. The guidance and counselling teachers only get involved when cases of drugs and substance abuse are reported.

A new approach to tackling alcohol and drug abuse in the school environment, is needed. School administrators, and government agencies should join hands to come up with school-based alcohol and drug abuse policies that holistically address the aspects of promoting free drug environments within the institutions.



Dr G ShreeKumar MenonDr. G. Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd), Ph.D. (Narcotics)

Former Director General of National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics & Multi-Disciplinary School Of Economic Intelligence India; Fellow, James Martin Centre For Non Proliferation Studies, USA; Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA; Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.; AOTS Scholar, Japan. He can be contacted at shreemenon48@gmail.com

 


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