Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jan 2007
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2007 Saipan Tribune


Drug abuse is a global phenomenon. It affects almost every country, 
although its extent and characteristics differ from region to region. 
Drug abuse trends around the world, especially among youth, have 
started to converge over the last few decades.

The United States Institute of Peace, the Pacific Regional Training 
Institute, and its anti-Violent and Substance Abuse program partners 
has selected "Drugs are not Child's Play" as the theme of its SY 
2006-2007 international campaign, in an effort to increase public 
awareness about the destructive power of drugs and society's 
responsibility to care for the well-being of children. The latest 
estimates indicate that 200 million people, or 5 percent of the 
global population age 15-64, have consumed illicit drugs at least 
once in the last 12 months. But what about kids? What about children 
(aged 4 to 10)?

PRTI supervisor SSgt. Edward Maratita Jr. said that although they are 
seldom the object of national and international studies, children of 
all ages are affected by drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Street 
children, working and living in dire conditions, are vulnerable, as 
are boys and girls whose family members are buying or selling illicit 
substances. These kids are exposed not only to bad examples but also 
to violent behavior associated to drug abuse. In some instances, 
children have lost their parents to this scourge and are now cared 
for by uncles, aunts or grandparents. At school, the situation may 
not be any better. Teenagers and peers may be pressuring kids to 
smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, at first, and then to try 
marijuana, the most widely consumed drug worldwide. Other types of 
drugs may follow.

PRTI's anti-drugs campaign urges adults to protect children. Parents, 
siblings, and other family members can ensure that a child's home is 
a safe environment and that children are aware of the dangers 
associated with drug abuse. Teachers and social workers also have a 
role to play by watching out for warning signs and taking measures to 
address any drug-related problems. According to Maratita, an example, 
teachers can provide kids with information on the health risks linked 
to drug abuse and also give them a forum to discuss the issue openly. 
Other individuals and organizations can and should also contribute to 
the protection of children. The media, non-governmental organizations 
and government institutions are among them.

Drug-related problems include increased rates of crime and violence, 
vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, demand for treatment, and a 
breakdown in social behavior.

In line of promoting awareness, selected students from Guam and the 
CNMI joined their counterparts at Japan in the Japan Student Drug 
Free Summit. The summit was held last Nov. 24-27 at the Tokyo 
University. The students interacted and shared ideas as to promoting 
awareness about violence and substance abuse.

In addition, other events will follow such as the essay contest 
"Youth and Violent Conflict." Moreover, the kick-off date of one of 
PRTI's sports partner, the Junior NBA/WNBA Basketball Program, is in 
January 2007. The program is an incentive for a drug free student, 
which can be nominated to Jr. NBA/WNBA Team and will be sent to watch 
an NBA at a selected city in the United States.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman