Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2006
Source: Nassau Guardian, The (Bahamas)
Copyright: 2006 The Nassau Guardian.
Author: Vanessa C Rolle, Lifestyles Editor


Were we really surprised when a 12-year-old student of  H.O. Nash Jr. 
High School was accused of possession and  selling drugs at school? 
Not really. We were surprised  that he got caught.

The questions to ask are, where did he get his stash?  (because I'm 
sure he did not have any time to hone his  agricultural skills and 
grow the drugs himself.) How  long has this been going on? Were his 
parents aware of  what he was doing? What could have led him to this 
kind  of lifestyle?

The good thing about this whole situation is that when  he tried to 
make a sale in that school among his peers,  who are relatively the 
same age, they said NO and  reported him to the school's authorities.

Bahamas, please congratulate yourself because this  proves that the 
Just Say No programme and all of the  anti-drug campaigns launched 
over the years have  worked. Somebody said NO and did not fall prey 
to peer  pressure. Somebody decided to do the right thing and  not 
follow the crowd. This scenario at H. O. Nash  proves that there is a 
different type of crowd that  exists - and it said NO.

There was once a time when the drug dealer was the guy  in the 
neighbourhood who wore thick diamond encrusted  gold chains, had at 
least seven luxury cars and at  least ten girls on his arms. Now they 
are appearing as  harmless as a dove to prey on the innocent, with 
the face of innocence.

This also brings to light the fact that parents must be  more 
cognizant of their children's friends and  whereabouts, while still 
putting a certain amount of  trust in the values instilled when they 
are not in  their eyesight. They must trust that their children  will 
make the right decisions. Someone at H. O. Nash  did.

I applaud the students and the administration of that  particular 
institution for not covering up what seems  to be not only a real 
problem, but an old problem. And  the public needs to know that just 
because this  incident happened at a public school, doesn't mean that 
such similar incidents are not occurring in the 
private  institutions. It all depends on the upbringing of 
that  child and how he/she will respond to peer pressure; 
how  strong-willed your children are and if they have the  courage to 
say NO. Curiosity has been killing the cat for ages, and it ain't 
about to stop now. If the  children aren't buying anything, a 
12-year-old drug  dealer does not have a market to cater to.

But this is not the first time in the history of  education in The 
Bahamas that a child has been caught  selling drugs behind "secure" 
school walls.

"That was going on from my days in school," says Deon,  29. "Ain't 
nothing changed, and that was fifteen years  ago. I never did it, but 
I saw it happening and I knew  about it and I am surprised that it 
has grown on a much  larger scale today. I didn't report it because 
some of  them were my peers. Back then, it was about not being 
a  tattle tale. It was the 'in' thing. If you told on  somebody, the 
whole school would ostracise you and you  would feel isolated. 
Wanting to be popular, we chose  the route of not telling on that person."

When I asked 18-year-old John (not his real name) who  just graduated 
this year from a rather conservative  Christian school, if he knew of 
any drug trafficking in  that particular school, he responded, 
"ohhhhhhhh yeah!"  John said that "Our class had da biggest drug 
smuggling  ring. Some of my friends even got expelled for it. The 
youngest was 13-years-old. I mean, I never like really  sit down and 
say well guys let's do drugs, but I tried  it before. I'm not gonna 
lie. Hangin' on the blocks and  smoking......gee, I was the boss. 
Everyone, if only for  that brief moment accepted me, knew my name. 
You know,  it was like 'you're one of us nah'; everyone except  Jesus 
Christ and the real people that already loved me,  all of a sudden 
didn't seem cool enough for me."

When asked what made him stop doing drugs he answered,  "I always 
knew it was no good; the fear of God and loss  of life; people do 
that simply to be cool at times."

He said that he was always known as the "choir boy" who  sang in 
church and played the piano. "They said I was  soft, but hanging 
around the big kids and kickin' it  with the big boys for that moment 
made me feel like a  superstar. I was too busy trying to be cool. I 
hated it  (smoking weed) though. I was like 'what is this 
awful  taste in my mouth and I choked, cried my eyes out and  coughed 
myself to death. The drug didn't give me any  feeling at all."

This situation is not unique to The Bahamas, but many  other 
countries suffer the same social problem with  children who get in 
the game pretty early in life.

According to Greig Box, in a Sept. 16 report for the  UK's, a total of 53,497 children were  caught with drugs 
from April 2005 to 2006 in that  country, which included four 
ten-year-olds who were  arrested for dealing. Some nine-year olds 
were arrested  for taking cannabis.

The article stated, "child dealers can earn from  UKP450  to UKP4,000 
a week" according to the King's College study  for the Joseph 
Rowntree Foundation found. Which  converted equals around $845 
dollars to $7,507 US  dollars per week.

The article continued that "police caught more than  6,000 kids 
selling class A hard drugs and cannabis last  year. The numbers of 
youngsters dealing in London have  shot up from 2,709 to 4,286 in the 
past three years. A  police drugs liaison officer, who did not want 
to be  named, said: "It used to be that the children would  smoke a 
cigarette behind the bike sheds, now it can be  a joint."

In a 2002 Thailand report it stated that the "Narcotics  Control 
Board Office paper that said in 1999 about  190,000 school students, 
or 1.4 per cent of students  nationwide, were drug addicts. In 1998, 
a report stated  that 19,967 drug-related cases had been brought to 
the justice system, 20 per cent of which concerned  children's 
involvement in the drug business." Which  ultimately meant that the 
child labour problem that  exists in that country was not resolved 
but rather it was moved from the "cruel factories, and into the  schools".

A 17-year-old student speaking under the condition of  anonymity to 
the Guardian, said he has seen the  repercussions of drug use in the 
youth of this nation  and it is not pretty. He misses his 
friend.......who is  now dead.

"No-one really cares until something hits close to  home, whereas a 
family member was shot and killed  bullied, arrested, or he rob the 
bank or store and was  killed like my friend who turned to robbery 
for no  apparent reason and is no longer with us today," he  said. 
"We all miss him so much. We use to play ball  together. But until 
that happens it's not your problem  but when that happens, it's too 
late." His friend  attended a most affluent Christian school in Nassau.

When asked if his friend was using drugs he said,  "That's just what 
young kids do. They do drugs."

For Jan, 24 (not her real name) she also graduated from  another 
popular Christian School, " Well, I knew it was  going on but never 
saw it for myself. I heard it was  done in the back of the school. I 
never reported it  because I never saw it myself and also I doubt I 
thought it was that serious at the time.....and I still  don't. 
However, I never did drugs in school but was  exposed to it more 
after I graduated. It was just for  the experience more than 
anything. I smoked a few  joints, but never got high. So I don't 
think I did it right."

She continued, "By the way I'm 24 and don't smoke. In  fact I can't 
stand the scent of it anymore. But until  they get rid of cigarettes, 
then I have no problem with  ganja."
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