Addressing the problem

Much has been said of late about new approaches to the issue of marijuana use and abuse and as a practitioner who has been in the field for many years I strongly support the call for alternatives to incarceration, particularly for first time use or being in possession of small quantities of the substance for “personal” use.

My concern however is how we determine the action necessary in situations where children and young persons between the ages of say, 10 and 18 are involved.

The incidence of drug use and abuse, legal and illegal, and anti-social behaviour being exhibited by young persons in our communities continues to be a source of concern and sustained efforts are required to address the problem.

The most recent statistics of the Centre for Counselling Addiction Support Alternatives for January -December 2012, show a total of 188 persons being referred to the centre for counselling and other interventions. Of this total, 121 (65 per cent) were young persons, 99 males, 22 females between 11-18 years of age. Of this 65 per cent at least half were involved in the possession and/or use of the substance which at this point remains illegal in Barbados.

Notwithstanding the serious challenge of funding and other resource implications, CASA has been pro-active in addressing the problem by implementing a series of programmes aimed at children and young persons which focus on education, prevention and counselling to reduce the incidence of illegal activity: reduce and where possible eliminate the harm likely to result from drug use; build self esteem and self-confidence and strengthen and re-build families.

The centre has been supported in its efforts with assistance from the Canadian High Commission with the grant of Can. $10,631 to fund a project involving children five to 11 years and young persons 12 to 18 years of age.

The project started in January 2013 and ends at the end of March 2013. A total of 25 children will benefit from the project. Parent’s participation in the project has been actively encouraged.

CASA has been at the forefront of providing alternative approaches to addressing the issue of drug use and other adverse behavioural issues particularly as they relate to children and young persons in our communities and the intention is to help these young minds to chart a course to a more productive life and future.

CASA thanks the Canadian High Commission for its support and we hope other agencies will follow their lead.

— Orlando Jones (Director)

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