Coming out of the latest annual secondary schools survey to gauge the extent of substance use among Barbadian students, are recommendations to increase the price of alcohol and establish a minimum legal age for the purchase and consumption of such beverages.
Both recommendations, directed at Government policymakers, are aimed at making it difficult for persons under age to get their hands on alcoholic beverages which, the 2013 Barbados Secondary School Survey found, represent the main substance consumed by children of school age.
The findings of the survey were released this week by the Research Department of the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA). The survey was a collaborative effort that also involved the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).
After alcohol, marijuana, inhalants and tobacco, in that order, were listed as the other substances commonly used by Barbadian school children.
Training of beverage servers to detect underage alcoholic drinking and deter binge drinking was another recommendation as the research showed that social life may play a role in drug use, particularly where alcohol and marijuana are concerned.
Delivering the findings of the survey, NCSA’s Research Assistant Laura Foster proposed that in an effort to prevent use of illicit drugs in schools, Section A (3) of the Education Act should be reviewed. She said this particular section outlines procedures for dealing with students who have in their possession any intoxicating liquor or controlled drug within the meaning of section 3 of the Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) Act 1991.
“Develop collaborative relationships between community leaders, law enforcement and school officials to address the use of illegal drugs by adolescents in the community and school settings,” Foster also proposed, as well as selective interventions among high school students with poor academic records and behavioural problems.
The report, based on the survey’s findings, also recommended interventions that focus on the social environment in which adolescents live, specifically “interventions that focus on parental modeling to prevent adolescents’ drug use and the promotion of positive student-teacher relationships.”