/ 21 April 2005

Primary schoolchildren bust for drugs

The boys, aged between nine and 13, were allegedly also selling drugs at the school. They handed over 56 mandrax tablets they’d hidden in the school toilets to police, later leading them to two dealers at a nearby train station. Although the school’s principal refused to speak to the media about the matter, he confirmed the incident.

This is just another startling example of how hardcore drugs are finding their way into all levels of schooling. One psychologist at the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca), who did not want to be named, confirmed that she treats children as young as nine for drug abuse. ‘The fact that children as young as 15 are admitted into drug rehabilitation centres should tell you that some of those children started abusing drugs when they were about 10 years old,” she says.

Recent research by the South African Epidemiology Network on Drug Use conducted in Gauteng found that 11,1% of children in treatment centres are primary schoolchildren. The number of children under 14 using drugs has increased from 0,9% in 1998 to 2,1% in 2001.

Youngsters between the ages of nine and 18 were found to be less interested in cocaine, prefering ecstacy and smoking the ‘white pipe” (a mix of dagga and mandrax). Different race groups were found to favour different drugs: heroine and ecstacy are used mainly by whites, whilst blacks use dagga and mandrax, coloureds use mandrax, cocaine and inhalants. Ecstacy and crack were the drugs of choice among Asians.