Survey finds substance abuse in government schools, over 60 kids referred to hospitals

| Nov 23, 2016, 11.34 AM IST

NEW DELHI: A small survey conducted by the School Health Scheme of the Directorate General of Health Services in government schools has “alarmed” the Directorate of Education. Conducted in just 39 schools over April-August this year, the survey says 16 has students who abuse substances. In some schools, the number of abusers is over a quarter of the children surveyed; in a few, over half.


Representative image.

“The report is very alarming,” says the DoE’s circular and instructs deputy directors in the districts to ensure “necessary action [is] initiated” and “these students [are] counselled on regular basis by heads of shool and EVGCs (emotional vocational guidance counsellors).” 144 boys were “identified” out of the 209 screened (68.8%) at a boys’ school in Nand Nagri Extention; at the boys’ senious secondary school in Mundka, 150 kids were picked out of 206 (72.8%); at a Dev Nagar school, it’s a littled under 34% (53 of 153); at Rajouri Garden Extension, its 28.46% (119 of 418) and at Roshanara Road, it’s 25.2% (121 of 480). Although the survey results don’t point this out, most are boys-only schools.

It isn’t the first time this survey has been conducted but there is greater emphasis on arresting the spread of substance abuse in schools now. A DoE official attributes the sudden enthusiasm to act to the High Court-appointed Juvenile Justice Committee. It has been working with different government departments to control delinquency; it pushed the DoE into undertaking the first head-count of out-of-school children. “If the committee feels things aren’t moving, the members promptly summon the chief secretary. We’ve managed to increase the number of posts for counsellors and are now taking more concrete steps on these issues,” says a DoE official.

Students from eight schools – 66 in all – have been referred to various hospitals including Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Guru Teg Bahadur, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and DGD Chhattarpur and Dwarka which are attended by teams from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS). “In most cases, the abuse is of the gutka-paan variety and in rarer cases, alcohol. It is generally not of harder substances. Also, this is a problem mainly with the boys,” says a DoE official. A girl is usually on a short leash and more closely monitored at home. “There are cases of underage smoking,” concedes Balwan Singh Dhankar who was, till recently, the head of the Mundka school, “But the abuse takes place outside school premises. There is no space on campus – canteen or blind-spot.”

“Our primary role,” adds the DoE official, “Will be to raise awareness and get counsellors. Very often, the family doesn’t want to admit to it and fight with teachers.” The State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) organised a three-day training programme on substance abuse for EVGCs in November.

Courtesy: The Times Of India-

Shreya Roy Chowdhury | TNN

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