Child Rights International (CRI) has called for the rise in drug abuse cases in schools to be treated as a public health issue, rather than a crime.
The organisation believes treating the canker as a health issue will be the best way to curb it in the various schools.
Speaking to TV3, the Director of CRI Bright Kweku Appiah said what the schools need is a social support system.
“We have made some proposals in terms of recommendations to the President to consider looking at the social support systems in our schools, and then also strengthening some institutions to do their work because we realize that some institutions have been given legal authority to do works in relation to what we did, so all that we did was to make a proposal that we need to reinforce the statutory authority that has been given them to do,” he said.
“Then one recommendation we also had to do was to do with the punishment regime that we have, we made it clear to his excellency through the report that we think that drug use and drug abuse is a public health issue, therefore we have to look at the punishment regime so that we can reduce the effect of the criminality and how best we can resolve the social component of it.
“So when a student commits an offence that is drug-related we feel that we should purely look at it in the context of public health rather than the pure criminal application we give to it.”
This comes after a survey by the Consultative Committee to Combat Drug Menace in Schools revealed that 54.1% of boys in Junior High and Senior High Schools use cannabis, while 34.3% of the girls smoke shisha.
Conducted in 176 schools across the country, the survey was geared towards ascertaining the source and cause of an increase in drug use in various Senior High and Junior High Schools.
Overall, about 10 psychiatrists, 138 heads of schools, and 72 guidance and counselling units in various schools were engaged for the survey.
It established that 59.9% of boys tend to use cigarettes more in schools, while 36.4% of first and second-cycle students in the country experiment with two or more different (drug) substances.
The survey revealed that “about 88.6% of students that were sampled undergo stress in various schools and drugs are the major influences of the stress.”
Further findings from the survey revealed that 36% of boys and 32.1% of girls use alcohol in schools.
Meanwhile, 34.3% of girls in the various Junior High and Senior High Schools were also found to use shisha.
The Committee has since submitted its findings to the President, through the Minister-designate for Interior, Ambrose Dery.