By Nelson Guga
Drug and substance abuse among the youth is both a national and global problem. Research has shown that 92% of seniors in the United States indulge in alcohol before they graduate from high school. 33% of this population are heavy drinkers.
The recent involvement of high school students in drug abuse and public sex inside a hired bus in Kenya buttress the notion that juvenile delinquency is on the upward projection. This begs the question, are we doing enough to help our children overcome this challenge?
In 2001, the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) was formed to help mitigate the drug problem in Kenya. NACADA was charged with the responsibility of coordinating activities of both individuals and organizations in the campaign against drug abuse. Through public education and developing necessary actions plans to reduce the problem, the role of NACADA was clearly cut out. However, NACADAâ€™s responsibility seemed to have hit a dead end due to increasing cases of drug abuse.
The emergence of powerful drug cartels in Kenya has frustrated efforts by this organization to execute its mandate. Studies reveal that the cartels have formed a complex syndicate that has made it difficult for NACADA to mitigate this problem. Nairobi has been touted as an important transit for drugs.
People between 16 years and 30 years forms an important market for drug abuse in Kenya. This implies a student in form two in Kenya is likely to have been introduced into drugs. Recent studies showed that 50% of students have taken drugs in Kenya. This figure has increased tremendously due to increase in availability of drugs and weak instruments of mitigation.
Teachers and parents share the responsibility of ensuring that students live drug free life while they are at school and during holidays. However, during holidays, some parents fail to offer the much needed support to their children so that they can overcome peer influence-the major cause of drug abuse. While at home, students interact with a wide range of people. It is during such interactions that they meet drug peddlers and through influence, they become victims of drug abuse.
Through social media and other internet sites, students have unbridled access to pornographic literature and whatnot. Lack of monitoring system on the part of parents has created conduits for students to explore a dark world.
Apart from teaching abstract Maths, the white manâ€™s language and making CRE optional in a sinful world, schools are silent on values. They are silent because we are in a country where values do not matter. Big thieves steal without much ado. Cases in point are the recent Mumias and Kenya Airways scams. National shames! People rob, maim and kill each other left, right and center before an apparently sleeping government.
Article 10 of the constitution (which envisages protection of national values) has lost its relevance. The judiciary has failed to curtail the dreadful surge in corruption and moral decline in this country. Deviant behaviors blossom in a society without high value system. Against this backdrop, the anti-social behavior that the students exhibited in the bus when they broke out for holidays ceases to be a surprise but an expectation.
To end these vices, the president must take a proactive approach to end, or at least mitigate, the cancer of corruption that has allowed drug abuse to continue unabated. He should prevail upon head of relevant institutions to take their responsibilities and sanitize this country. We cannot come out of this mess unless hard decisions are made to curb vices that have strangled this countryâ€™s moral growth.