‘Pupils use drugs and alcohol at 13’

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high school_oct 17 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (File photo) Photo: Matthews Baloyi

Pupils in Gauteng high schools use drugs to enhance their performance.

And the majority of pupils who abuse drugs are in Grade 12.

This is according to a study by the Unisa College for Economic and Management Sciences’ youth research unit.

The study looked at drug use and alcohol consumption among high schools pupils in Gauteng.

More than 10 000 pupils participated in the study, that was released last month.

The research found that the common drug for enjoyment and stress relief was dagga. It also found:

* Seven in 10 pupils confirmed that drugs were easily accessible.

* Instead of buying lunch at school, pupils would rather buy drugs.

* Pupils spend R237.33 a month on drugs.

Even though pupils take drugs, 91% of those interviewed agreed it was not “cool” to use drugs, while 89% said taking drugs involved risks. Some Grade 12 pupils have missed school due to drugs.

And it gets worse.

Four in 10 pupils, specially pupils in Grade 10, mix drugs and alcohol.

Many pupils start drinking alcohol at the age of 13. And 57% confirmed that they drank to be “socially acceptable”, while 45% said they drank to “escape their worries”.

The study suggests that teachers must be trained to identify stress-related symptoms in pupils, and how to deal with them in a school environment.

Parents are supposed to be role models for their children, but some pupils said their parents “engage in regular and irresponsible alcohol use”. Pupils then think it is acceptable to spend R327.90 on alcohol a month, money intended to be used for pocket money or lunch money at school.

The study suggests that “innovative approaches to drug and alcohol prevention among the youth need to be put into practice”.

Erica Nel from the SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependance said it was important for parents and teachers to educate children about substance abuse.

“Don’t just tell them that if you’re drink you’ll turn into a hobo,” she said.

Children need to know the facts about substance abuse.

Schools need to have continuous awareness campaigns about substance abuse, and parents need to spend time with their children – “not just watch TV with them but to talk to them”, she said.

Nel stressed that it was important for parents and teachers to be good role models for the children in their care.

Sunday Independent

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