By JOHN OYWA
Next time your child fails to surrender that Sh10 balance after a shopping errand, don't dismiss it as a non-issue. Instead, you need to be worried because it is highly likely the coin is being reserved for the drug peddler next door.
With the devolution of drug trade into the residential estates, money thirsty peddlers are now packaging drugs for as little as Sh10 to target young addicts.
Investigation by The Underworld reveals that Nairobi and other major urban centres are awash with various types of drugs, some of which even pass as sweets or chewing gums.
Martha Mwikali, a resident of Ofafa Maringo, thought it was no big deal when her 11-year-old son started pinching coins left on the kitchen table.
"Whenever I asked him, the boy would smile and tell me he used the coins to buy sweets. I was later shocked to learn he used the coins to buy bhang from a neighbourÂ¡Â¯s house. I was lucky I managed to stop him from the habit," says Mwikali.
But another parent in Outer Ring Estate, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from the drug lords, was not as lucky. His 14-year-old son is now a drug addict. "He used to ask me for coins but I didnÂ¡Â¯t suspect he was using the money to buy drugs. I once returned home unexpected and found him smoking bhang. He has dropped out of school and is now very violent," he says.
A recent survey by Nacada shows drug abuse among the youth is worsening every day. According to Nacada, drug abuse in Kenya is escalating rapidly Â¡Âª from the use of alcohol and cigarettes to more deadly ones such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
"Alcohol, substance and drug abuse among children, especially the urban adolescents, is not only a risky behaviour in this era of HIV and Aids, but also a potential source of security threat to a growing city like Nairobi," says the report.
The report further says that eight per cent of youth aged between 10-14 have used alcohol at least once in their life while 13 per cent have used cigarette and other drugs.