Law enforcement must up the ante on drugs in schools

Last year, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) made public that the use and sale of the drug ecstasy was discovered in five schools. Known as a recreational drug, it has harmful side effects, including addiction and can cause altered sensations. CANU’s announcement might have come as a surprise to many and is extremely worrying. What is clear is that some young people have and are been exposed to a drug that also affects the brain and one that also has reportedly been used as a date rape trap.
Sadly, drug use in some schools is reportedly not new. Unfortunately, young minds are involved in cigarette smoking, consumption of alcohol to others that are far more harmful. Some are bold enough to capture the effects through unsavoury activities they engaged in afterwards evident from videos that circulate. CANU’s Deputy Head, Lesley Ramlall, noted that looking at the videos, especially those involving young girls, is really worrying for society.
Clearly this will now attract attention and the expectation would be for the implementation of measures to eliminate this illegal practice, especially within the school system. Law enforcement will have to up the ante in all aspects including intelligence, to holistically deal with this situation which has a frightening potential to become a wider problem.
While CANU must be commended for making the discovery and alerting the nation, it rises the concerns over how long it might been ongoing; whether the schools were aware or whether they have the capacity to aid in identifying drug sales and use within. The drug trade tends to operate within a network and at this point it may be difficult to know how extensive it may be in the schools and whether the actual use is confined to the five.
Another reality is that young people will experiment unfortunately with harmful things. This is where the Education Ministry will have to be more innovative to derive mechanisms to build capacity among teachers so that they can be able to spot any possible sign. Once again this will not be easy given the innovativeness of those involved. That aside, there must be some signs including changes in students’ behavioural pattern and performances depending upon the extent of usage. This is not just for ecstasy but other drugs as well.
The teachers will need to be supported in this fight and it may very well demand a relooking of policies at a higher level for the implementation of effective combating mechanisms. This would need some urgency given that some young people, who represent the future, are involved. It will take the involvement of all; parents, teachers, the Education Ministry and law enforcement.
Crucial is sustained education on the harmful effects of drug use for which the media should be encouraged to be a part of. It has to be national given what’s at stake. Maybe this could be the opportunity for the establishment of a structured school monitoring mechanism with specific responsibility. This has been touted before, for other reasons, where trained personnel could either be stationed or make visits to schools to gauge any related effects.
This will have to be thoroughly thought-out for there is the possibility it could feel that part of their responsibility is being usurped. They generally look for signs that could indicate a shift in behaviour and try to find a way of having it resolved. With what is now in the news, it begs the question of whether the situation has in some way moved beyond the remit of teachers; be it a lack of capacity or awareness or frankly being afraid to intervene.
Beyond these shores in some schools in the USA, metal detectors were forced to be installed following an upsurge of attacks on students by students in what was described as gang-related violence. That was after the situation had festered and grown. Routine searches here may not be farfetched to take nip the ecstasy.