Monday, April 16, 2007

Drugs in schools

A total of 81,702 students used illegal drugs in 2006 (Jakarta Post, 11 April). The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) reports that 8,449 of those drug users were elementary school students and those are the ones we know about. With the assumption that those who were detected represent the tip of the iceberg, just how many children in this country are taking illegal drugs?

First, where did they get the money from? I’m assuming that illegal drugs are not that cheap.

Second, where did they get the drugs from? Are drug dealers standing outside schools beside the snack vendors? (“Meatballs, ice cream, ecstasy!”) Are other kids selling the drugs inside the schools? How? Considering the small size of most schools and the large number of students, it’s not as though there are many private places for child drug dealers to hide.

Third, when and where are these children using drugs? At home, a friend’s home, at school or on the street? None of these locations seems like an optimal location for using drugs without being detected.

Fourth, where are the parents and teachers while this wave of “stoned” children is sweeping the nation? How is it possible that so many children had the time, access, money and freedom from observation to take drugs?

Is no one taking care of the children in this country? How about a hotline for children to report suspected drug use in their school? How about random urine testing in schools where there is a suspicion of drug use? Then, appropriate sanctions for those caught using drugs and more severe sanctions for those caught dealing drugs. How can we build a prosperous future when some kids are already getting “stoned” in elementary school and public officials are too concerned with their latest project to care about the future leaders of this nation?

Gene Netto

Jakarta, Indonesia

(Published in Jakarta Post 16 April, 2007)

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