Recently, the Education Ministry and the police made the shocking revelation that 420 schools nationwide were identified as being at high risk of serious drug abuse. However, I feel that focus should not only be given to the identified schools, but to all schools.
It is important to note that that drug abuse among school children cannot happen without outside interference, especially adult interference. Crucially, the police and ministry have managed to identify potentially high-risk schools, but it is equally important for them to monitor the areas surrounding high-risk schools.
It is highly unlikely that any drugs will be channelled to the average pupil from a distance. There are probably syndicates or addicts actively running drug operations in the area that are channelling these illegal substances to the pupils.
As such, the police and all relevant enforcement agencies like the National Anti-Drug Agency must take on a more proactive role and conduct more on-the-ground searches and arrest identified suspects.
Communities surrounding the 420 schools must also play an active role by being more vigilant, and report any suspicious matter related to the issue to the relevant authorities.
It is time for local authorities to engage with the issue as well. Simple initiatives like hanging a banner in the identified area which clearly states that the schools are at high risk of a drug abuse problem, as is done to combat dengue, could open the eyes of many people in the affected areas, and that there must be a collective effort to deal with the issue effectively.
Whatever approach one takes in dealing with this problem, immediate steps must be taken before it spirals out of control and affects other schools in the country, putting other school children at similar risk of a drug abuse problem.