Youngsters urged to stay drug-free
As drug use among youth in Barbados continues to rise, campers of Project Safeguarding Our Future Today (SOFT) are being encouraged to stay drug-free.
The camp, now in its 14th year, was conceptualized by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) to reduce crime, violence and drug use among youth. Targeting children and their families during the transition from primary to secondary school, the week-long camp began Sunday, and yesterday operated under the theme, Drug-Free Me.
Community Programme Officer at the NCSA, Makeada Bourne told Barbados TODAY that it was important young people know there are alternatives to drugs.
A 2013 Barbados Secondary School Survey found that marijuana continues to be the drug of choice. When compared to results from a 2006 survey, the 2013 figure showed an overall 9.8 per cent increase, with drug use among males increasing from 20.4 per cent to 27.5 percent and use by females moving from 14.8 per cent to 19.6 percent.
“That in itself is worrisome. That shows the dynamic of what is happening in our community,” Bourne said, noting that peer pressure remains a key factor in drug use among youth.
She told the campers: “You, the young person, have to be the one that is dynamic enough, different enough to [exert] positive peer pressure; get the others around you to do what is right.”
Drug Education Officer for Secondary Schools, Brian Bumba Payne told Barbados TODAY that the NCSA has taken a holistic approach to helping campers make healthy decisions. That includes a life skills component that helps children face challenges and make good choices.
He performed pieces of rhythm poetry, Get High Naturally, Calm Down, Give Peace a Chance and Abstinence to push that message during today’s activities.
But Payne said the problem of drug use should be treated as a social issue, and insisted it should not be dealt with by the NCSA alone. (KW)