The high spate of drug abuse in Basic and Senior High Schools in recent times is considered a Public Health issue by a new report by the Child Rights International(CRI) proposed to the President and the Interior Ministry of Ghana.
The Director of CRI Bright Kweku Appiah has recommended to the government to treat the prevalence of drug abuse among young people in the country, especially Junior and Senior High School students not as a criminal matter but rather a Public Health canker in the country in order to curb it adequately.
He said this in an interview with Alfred Ocansey on News 360 on TV3, Friday, February 19.
Mr. Appiah said the research surveyed one hundred and seventy-six (176) Basic and Senior High Schools across the country, interviewing one hundred and thirty-eight(138) heads of institutions with reference to the causes and effects of drug abuse amongst young people in the country.
“Basically we were given two types of reference, that is to look at the causes and effects, then again to make recommendations to the President and to have engagement with stakeholders. Based on the work, we as a committee decided to look at different mergers in getting data to support what is going on in our schools, so we looked at 176 Junior and Senior High Schools, we also looked at 10 psychiatric and rehabilitation centers, we had engagements with about 72 Guidance and Counselling units of the various Secondary schools and some Basic schools” he pointed out.
“Then also we looked at 138 heads of institutions, so that formed the basis for data that we got for this report, we also resorted to some statutory institutions to look at what is happening and to make our recommendations on the basis of what is happening and so this is what gave us the picture in terms of the key findings that we made”.
He went on to say that the report made some key recommendations to government on the way forward in dealing holistically with the canker among the youth in the country.
“We have made some proposals in terms of recommendations to the President to consider looking at the social support systems in our schools, and then also strengthening some institutions to do their work because we realize that some institutions have been given legal authority to do works in relation to what we did, so all that we did was to make a proposal that we need to reinforce the statutory authority that has been given them to do”.
“Then one recommendation we also had to do was to do with the punishment regime that we have, we made it clear to his excellency through the report that we think that drug use and drug abuse is a public health issue, therefore we have to look at the punishment regime so that we can reduce the effect of the criminality and how best we can resolve the social component of it, so when a student commits an offense that is drug-related we feel that we should purely look at it in the context of public health rather than the pure criminal application we give to it” he pointed out.
By Barima Kwabena Yeboah|3news.com|Ghana