SCHOOLS and parents must work together to eliminate illegal practices at learning centres by pupils including the intake of harmful and addictive substances.
The country is dealing with a drug problem especially among youths and it will take efforts from everyone to stop the scourge that threatens the nation’s future generations.
President Mnangagwa in February launched the National Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse campaign as the country seeks to come up with lasting solutions to drug abuse which is on the increase.
The youths are abusing hard drugs including cocaine, crystal meth while others have resorted to smoking non-conventional products such as powder on diapers, powder from some juices as well fluorescent lights powder.
Yesterday we reported that some pupils at Petra College in Bulawayo were caught “vaping” with school authorities warning that the addictive substance is a threat to learners’ lives.
Vaping, a process of using an electronic device that heats up a liquid and the vapour is then inhaled by users, has become an issue of concern especially in private schools where a number of pupils have been caught indulging.
In a letter dated May 27, Petra College headmaster Mr Robert Aldridge said the school had taken action against several pupils who were found smoking within its premises.
“Many of you will be aware of a search conducted at the Senior College last week Friday. This was following suspicions that vaping was being done on school campus by a few of our learners. Vaping appears to be a growing trend among teenagers across our nation’s schools and is a matter of concern for the following reasons.
“Our school policy is clear that smoking is prohibited and this is smoking albeit in a different form. Vaping comes with well researched health risks and therefore is not to be encouraged,” said Mr Aldridge.
“Please note that the students found using or in possession of vaping devices have been sanctioned and any further incidents may lead to suspension or exclusion.”
He said there is a possibility that some of the pupils were involved in the supply and distribution of drugs.
Mr Aldridge said pupils found supplying or distributing drugs will be suspended.
He said some pupils were buying non-conventional drugs which can be harmful.
“The following health concerns are real and to be noted by parents and students: there is high dosage of nicotine in vaping juice and therefore it is highly addictive, not all vendors are honest and students are inhaling unknown substances such as pesticides which are used to stabilise the liquid,” he said.
“The ‘black market’ for vaping may use modified liquids which could include stronger drugs and other dangerous chemical components, medical professionals are seeing lung and major organ damage seemingly caused by long-term vaping, some deaths have been recorded and linked to vaping.”
Mr Aldridge said parents and guardians should take keen interest in their children’s activities while educating them against drug abuse.
Petra College should be commended for being open about the issue so that parents and other stakeholders are involved in coming up solutions to the issue.
They have spotlighted a problem that is not only affecting their institution but is prevalent in most schools and tertiary institutions.
There is serious need for concerted efforts to end the drug problem among youths including pupils. Schools should, in partnership with relevant organisations, conduct awareness campaigns and impress upon pupils the dangers associated with drug abuse.
Support systems should also be provided for those pupils who are already hooked in different kinds of drugs so that they are rehabilitated and continue with their studies.
The police are also urged to double efforts in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of drug peddlers.