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Alcohol abuse in schools a big challenge

We can no longer pretend, fold our arms or bury our heads in the sand concerning the problem of alcohol misuse in school. It is a well known fact that many people start drinking alcohol while still at school.
The most misused substances by school going children in our country are nicotine, cigarettes, alcohol and dagga. Inspite of mounted and vigorous campaigns by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and other stakeholders, we still have school boys and girls taking alcohol in Zambia. Research has shown that our school boys and girls resort to taking alcohol in order to be accepted by their friends and peers. But surely, is it true that for one to be accepted by the so-called peers and friends, then you need to drink or take alcohol? Apart from that some pupils engage in alcohol misuse in order to know what it feels like to be drunk. It is very dangerous for our boys and girls in school to experiment with alcohol. After all, we are all aware that whatever your reasons are for drinking or taking alcohol, it is very harmful to one’s health. Alcohol abuse and misuse affect most of the vital organs of our bodies. Some of the organs affected are the kidneys and liver. I don’t want to labour much into the importance of the kidney and liver in our bodies. The two organs play a very pivotal role in our continued existence. The other effect of alcohol misuse is that pupils who smoke dagga or drink beer may end up committing delinquent acts under the influence of such drugs.
Further, misuse of alcohol may cause serious health problems to the learners and in fact can lead to boys and girls stealing in order to raise money for such activities.  I am saying so because no sane parent will provide money to a school going child to buy beer or any form of drugs. The misuse of alcohol lead to decrease in academic performance since there is lack of concentration among the pupils. In addition, pupils who are busy with misuse of alcohol ultimately fail to do home work and most unfortunately they are at risk of unplanned sex and unwanted pregnancies in case of the girls. There is an increased risk of contracting HIV and AIDS and at the same time, such pupils run the risk of being suspended or expelled from school, which would ultimately affect their future.
It is important for our pupils not to take advantage of school events such as inter-house sports activities, district or provincial sports activities to misuse alcohol or any drug. We expect our school going boys and girls to respect and love themselves by abstaining from alcohol. In fact, the laws of Zambia do not allow people under the age of 18 to enter a bar or drink alcohol. Though in our public schools we still have boys and girls aged 18 and above, the school rules should be strictly followed. We need to have teachers to supervise school events and outings so that these events are alcohol-free. We also need to encourage schools to form anti-alcohol/drug clubs to sensitise pupils on the dangers of alcohol/drug abuse. Inviting officials from the DEC and Ministry of Health to come and discuss the effects and implications of substance abuse can help. We also need responsible adults in the community to counsel children on the dangers of alcohol misuse. These adults ought to be role models. By fighting together we can stop the misuse of alcohol by our pupils and have a Zambia with sober minded youths.
Contact:timothykambilima@yahoo.com, 09

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