JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness has announced that the Ministry will be establishing a Parent Support Commission which will liaise with substance abuse intervention institutions to provide information and support to parents whose children are victims of substance abuse.
Mr. Holness was speaking on Thursday at the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) Public Forum on Substance Abuse and Youth at Eden Gardens,St Andrew. The Minister said that the intervention is part of a new thrust of his Ministry to ease the stress on parents whose children are trapped by substance abuse and who need help in coping.
“The parents out there under stress. They don’t know how to identify the signs of drug abuse; they don’t know how to identify when their child requires special attention; and even when they are able to identify these signs, they don’t know where to go for help,” Mr. Holness observed.
He added that through the Parent Commission an institutional framework would be established to deepen the network between Government and non-Governmental organizations involved in substance abuse intervention.
“We have to put the institutional framework in place to use Government funding to partner in an effective and meaningful way with the agencies that are already on the ground. We also have to take advantage of the synergies and skills in these areas to tackle this problem”, the Minister said.
Mr. Holness expressed alarm at the statistics coming from various surveys conducted by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) in the island’s schools. A 2003 survey showed that 72 per cent of those interviewed had experimented with alcohol, while 26 per cent had smoked cigarettes, with 17 per cent smoking ganja.
A 2006 survey indicated that children as young as eight were smoking cigarettes, with 28 per cent of adolescents also confessing to smoking cigarettes.
The Minister told the gathering that he was eager to learn more about the problem plaguing the nation’s youth with a view to making a meaningful contribution to its containment. Also addressing the forum was the Executive Director of the NCDA, Mr. Michael Tucker, who disclosed that in the coming year, the NCDA would be focusing its efforts on increasing the provision of primary treatment services in communities, generating quantitative and qualitative data to inform the agency’s work and increasing its advocacy work for greater national awareness and intervention on substance abuse control. He also said the Agency would be re-establishing the community group network as a way of re-engaging communities in the fight against substance abuse.
The Forum, which wraps up National Drug Awareness month, was held under the theme: “Monitoring the Future – What Jamaica’s Parents must do about Substance Abuse.”

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