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Parents should be vigilant to keep children off drugs

By Editorial | January 28th 2021

When schools reopened early this month, there was a lot of concern over the safety of learners. Learning institutions were hastily closed in March 2020 after the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya.

What informed this decision was the need to stop the spread of Covid-19. Indeed, had the government not closed schools at the time, they would have been ideal breeding grounds for the pandemic due to congestion.

The health safety concerns are, however, being overshadowed by another problem. Cases of student indiscipline are on the rise in many schools across the country.

There have been several cases in which both primary and secondary school learners have attacked teachers and non-teaching staff in their schools. Some of the attacks, like the Nyang’ori High School incident in which a student attacked a security guard a few weeks ago, have turned fatal.

Arson cases have also been reported at Kisumu Boys, Kisumu County, and Bukembe and Chesamis secondary schools in Bungoma County. It is easy to blame such cases on the long closure of schools. During that time, most learners were left to their own devices while parents and guardians went out in search of their daily upkeep. It is possible in that period in which the youngsters were idle and did not have adult supervision, some of them were exposed to alcohol, drugs and other bad influences. Unrestricted exposure to bad content on the Internet could also have influenced the bad behaviour in students.

In its report to Parliament, the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) partly blames the violence in schools on alcohol and drug use among students. Already, it has been established that the university student suspected of killing four family members and a fifth person in Kiambu used drugs.

This is a problem society cannot run away from, and must therefore confront it now. The greatest responsibility lies with parents and guardians, who must take time to understand their children and address their collective needs.

Greater introspection is needed when children as young as four indulge in alcohol and drugs. Nacada has a duty to carry out public education on the effects of alcohol and drug abuse, while the government is duty bound to enact legislation that imposes heavy punishment on drug traffickers.

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