JIS News

In the effort to curb the rise of drug use among the youth population, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture has developed a policy document for the management of substance abuse, and is preparing the document for implementation throughout the education system.
Information Minister, Burchell Whiteman made this disclosure at the post Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House on November 1.
The Minister revealed that to date, “the Ministry has been introducing [the document] to all the stakeholders, the officers in the Ministry, principals, guidance counsellors in schools, and community groups because as is made clear in the document, there are roles to be played by the relevant parties.”
He further stated that, “the policy document sets out factors, which contribute to substance abuse, it sets out the level of abuse in the system as identified by a survey done a few years ago, and it indicates that the prevalence of substance abuse declines as students move through the system,” he further stated.
Citing data from 1997, Senator Whiteman said that substance abuse was about twice as great for 11 to 12 year-olds as it was for the 12 or 13 age group, but the practice declined from the 12 to 13 age group to the sixth form age level. “This suggest that they experiment and then hopefully, they are educated and learn the dangers, and the abuse declines,” he reasoned.
The study revealed that in the case of boys, the ranking of substance abuse had alcohol topping the list, while cigarette use was second, and cannabis or ganja, ranked third. Minister Whiteman pointed out that the prevalence of crack and cocaine abuse in the school youth population was “virtually non existent”.
He said it was important that cases of substance abuse be identified where they existed and dealt with. The document, he continued, “indicates the signs to look for and the role of the Ministry in terms of programme requirements and activities. It makes reference to providing students with alternatives, and then deals with substance abuse prevention in schools and goes on to deal with how cases of substance should be treated.”
In outlining the mechanisms the policy document suggests to be implemented to counter the varying problems of substance abuse, Minister Whiteman said, “they range from organised school monitoring, referral to other educational or treatment programmes, separation from school community and referral to law enforcement. But the emphasis is always on prevention and treatment and cure, rather than on the rejection of the student as being beyond redemption.”

Skip to content