• Drugs in schools: Protecting our children

    first_imgDeputy Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), Lesley Ramlall, on Monday confirmed that investigations by his Unit have led to the discovery of ecstasy in at least five schools across the country.Referring to it as a “worrying trend”, Ramlall said children have come forward and admitted to utilising the recreational drug, which has led to the arrest of some persons. But the wider problem facing the law enforcement agencies in the country seems to be reaching the ‘top man’ or “established supplier”.Ramlall also admitted that the schools at the centre of the drug usage were located predominately in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Four (Demerara-Mahaica), as he explained during a CANU staff training conference, that several other approaches will have to be employed in order to reduce the prevalence, availability and usage of ecstasy – not only in schools but by adults at night clubs and parties.Even though he disclosed that CANU’s investigations have not led to the discovery of the presence of other illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or heroin in schools, he did stress that no further or additional investigation would be mounted without an “invitation” from the Education Ministry, which is being seen as a crucial partner in addressing the current dilemma.His statements led Vice President and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to declare that the law enforcement agencies in Guyana were “losing the battle” as drugs have now found their way into schools across the country.Ramjattan, and rightfully so, went on to urge parents in Guyana to ensure that they do more to “steer” their children away from the usage of ecstasy and other drugs, as he lobbied for more action on the part of the law enforcement agencies. Perhaps, what is most interesting about the revelation is the fact that CANU and its sister agencies seem to have a significant amount of ‘intelligence’ on what is taking place in relation to the illicit sale and usage of ecstasy in and out of the school system but are asking explicitly for more stakeholder support and commitment in addressing the same.The truth is, these revelations are serious by any measurement and must raise the hair on the skin of all right-thinking and ethically-astute Guyanese. And there must be no effort spared on the part of the Government through its Ministries of Public Security, Education, Social Protection, and Public Health to take corrective actions, where necessary, by employing executive measures aimed at equipping both the school system and the security sector to deal with the threats and challenges posed by the growth in popularity and usage of ecstasy.Also, the importance of other stakeholders such as the Guyana Teachers’ Union, the school Boards and parents, in general, cannot be underplayed as they will can serve as gatekeepers and the first respondents whenever there are worrying signs developing or cases being found.If the situation is not arrested then in a matter of years, the public security and health sector wills have another major problem on its hands as research has shown that over a long-term period, ecstasy can have irreparable damage to serotonin neurotransmitters.Researchers also believe that ecstasy causes a flood of serotonin in the brain during use, and the damage is caused by the overproduction. Since serotonin levels affect learning, sleep and emotional processes, such damage can leave users severely impaired. Without proper functioning of the neurotransmitters, conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and memory loss are more likely to occur. These conditions can be present for long periods even after use has ended.Therefore, all hands are needed on deck in order to protect our children from temptations such as ecstasy and other illicit substances. CANU’s Deputy Head must be commended for his frank disclosures which will now go a far way in encouraging more stakeholders to complement the agency’s work by embarking on projects aimed at reducing the use of the drug in order to safeguard our children.last_img

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