Kwekwe (New Ziana)-There has been concern raised by the Kwekwe Child Protection Unit over vendors selling prohibited drugs to school children.
It has been observed that drug and substance abuse by children from as early as Grade 6 has reached crisis levels.
These vendors disguise themselves selling snacks and other treats, when in actual fact, they peddle drugs.
The vendors were identified at Globe and Phoenix Primary School, where they hide drugs and alcohol in nearby bushes.
Drug bases have also been identified in Amaveni, Mbizo 7 and mining compounds.
An increased number of school children have been seen going to these bases and indulging in drugs including the now problematic, ‘mutoriro’.
The Kwekwe Child Protection Unit recommended that awareness campaigns be conducted in schools, with the inclusion of Junior Councillors, and to engage with local leadership as well as security forces.
Meanwhile, the Midlands State University (MSU) has launched the Drug and Substance Use Prevention Among Primary Students (DASS) programme at the University’s Gweru Main Campus.
Schools that attended the workshop included Chikumbiro Primary School, Takunda Primary School and Stanely Primary School.
The launch, which was coupled with a training workshop, sought to educate participants on ways of managing and preventing drug and substance abuse (DSA) among early adolescents.
Midlands State University Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Academic Affairs, Professor Alois Chiromo said that drug and substance abuse by children from as early as Grade 6 has reached crisis levels.
He urged schools to educate students about drug and substance abuse to help create a better society.
Midlands Deputy Provincial Education Director, Mrs Angeline Zahile elaborated on how the Gender-Based Violence Desk and Guidance and Counselling platforms were created to help deal with cases of student misbehaviour as a result of drug and substance abuse.
The workshop and launch of DASS is part of a broader initiative being spearheaded by a consortium comprising MSU’s Department of Psychiatry and Young People Mental Health Trust (YO-PETALTH) which received a grant titled “Community Access to Child Health (ICATCH)” that seeks to improve the well-being of young people.
Under the ICATCH initiative, at least 500 students and an equal number of parents will be empowered over the next three years.
Five hundred guidance and counselling teachers and staff will also receive training. The programme will largely utilise edutainment with dramas, speeches and poems as key instruments for information dissemination.
Several articles on drug and substance abuse are expected to be published during the same period.