With an intention to tackle the malevolent influence of illicit drug and substance abuse among teenagers, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) joined hands with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Tuesday, February 9, and released a Joint Action Plan on the 'Prevention of Drug and Substance Abuse among Children and Illicit Trafficking'.
The panel has put forth the plan to boards such as CBSE, ICSE that the affiliation would only be given to schools on the ground rule of whether the schools have prevented alcohol and tobacco shops in their vicinity, the inclusion of curriculum related to drug abuse by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), monitoring CCTV cameras at drug stores and by developing "prahari clubs" an initiative for children to keep an eye on substance abuse in their schools and communities.
The project has been formulated to convince children against drug abuse and put an end on the sale of drugs near schools, educational and child care institutions. It also aims for "strategic interventions" for pharmaceutical drugs used as intoxicants by minors.
In conversation with The Indian Express, NCPCR officials said that the need to enhance the surveillance system and proper implementation of the existing policies in order to prevent drugs among adolescents had been surging at a terrifying rate in our country. The data revealed by NCPCR and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre said that the most common substances used by children and adolescents were not only tobacco and alcohol but extended up to inhalants and cannabis.
Research by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights discovered the sad truth that all children in conflict with law were into drug abuse. In addition to 95.5 percent children at childcare institutions and 93 percent of street children were dealing with serious drug abuse problems.
The study by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2019 showed another grim reality that 4.6 lakh children in the country were under the serious influence of inhalants. In fact, the abusers of inhalants in children were more than adults. The five states with maximum numbers of inhalant abusers among children were Uttar Pradesh (94,000), Madhya Pradesh (50,000), Maharashtra (40,000), Delhi (38,0000) and Haryana (35,000).
NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said, "We are strengthening the system of monitoring and implementation of existing policies on drug abuse and illicit trafficking prevention, and one of the main cornerstones of this is the setting up of these clubs… we believe involving children themselves will be the most powerful tool against drug abuse."
"The children can complain to school authorities who can inform education officials and they can alert the administration. Once this route is established, the local authorities can implement the rules. We want to increase the number of complaints that we and other authorities receive so that enforcement and monitoring can be ensured,'' he added.
The road map also includes the installation of CCTV cameras in schools and drug stores which sell prescribed drugs. The plan also includes the impromptu checking CCTV cameras by educational officials.
"A separate register is maintained in drug stores for the sale of the H, H1 and X schedule drugs. In the first phase, we will ensure CCTV cameras in pharmacies that sell these drugs in the 272 most vulnerable districts which have been identified, to ensure that these are not being sold to children. We are also pushing for the digitisation of these sales registers, as well as entire supply chains of these psychotropic drugs, so we can digitally monitor how they are being used,'' added Kanoongo.
According to the plan, various professed bodies on drug regulation and a team of experts from the social justice ministry, AIIMS, NCERT and SCERT will dine together to explore the possibility of awareness and prevention of drug abuse among children. The law to maintain 100 metres distance between educational institutes and tobacco or liquor shops will be drafted. Notices against the drug usage with Indian Penal Code (IPC) will also be displayed at schools, educational institutions and government buildings.
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