4-year-old children are abusing drugs – NACADA report reveals

School children as young as four years old are abusing drugs, the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has revealed.

In a report released on Wednesday and which is likely to cause worry among parents, NACADA says at least 17% of pupils in primary schools are using one drug or substance of abuse.

“…7.2% were currently using prescription drugs; 3.2% were using tobacco, 2.6% were using alcohol, 2.3% miraa/muguka, 1.2% were using inhalants and 1.2% heroin,” reads the report

NACADA Chair Julius Githinji said the survey dubbed Status of Drugs  and Substance Abuse among Primary School Pupils in Kenya, 2019 covered 3307 pupils from 177 primary schools across 25 counties in the country and was conducted in conjunction with the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).

The survey showed that pupils were mostly likely to use drugs during school holidays, on their way home from school, during weekends and during inter-school competitions.

Most common sources of drugs used by school children were cited as kiosks/shops and bars near schools, friends and school workers.

The report further revealed that pupils from families where one or both parents/guardians use drugs or substances of abuse were more likely to use the same.

Also more likely to use drugs were pupils with knowledge of a friend or schoolmate using drugs or those who accompany parents to events where alcohol or any drug is being served.

Following this, NACADA has called for proper sensitization against drug and substance abuse in primary schools and enforcement of laws and prevention policies.

“These efforts include: enforcement of guidelines on establishment of business premises and bars near schools; ban on sale of cigarettes in single sticks and sensitization of parents on the risks of keeping drugs at home or being accompanied by children to drug consumption facilities,” reads the report.

Col (Rtd) Julius Githinji said the agency will partner with the Ministry of Education and other institutions to undertake a survey in institutions of higher learning on drug and substance abuse.

Interior Ministry Principal Administrative Secretary Kangethe Thuku has in the meantime called for concerted efforts in the war against drugs, saying that prescription drugs are becoming popular among school-going students.

The PS issued a directive to all Regional Coordinators to ensure no bar is 300 metres near a school, any alcoholic drink joints allowing minors be dealt with, and that no alcoholic joints be within residential areas.

Additionally, Thuku ordered that no kiosks be allowed to operate near school fences.

He further called upon schools heads to partner with NACADA in fighting drug abuse, while urging parents to be aware of where their children are and what they are watching.

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