By Sister Jacinta Pinto
MUMBAI, JUNE 12, 2015: Surveys conducted suggest that an alarming 13% of the people involved in substance abuse, in India, are below 20 years. Statistics of this nature have prompted Don Bosco Balprafulta (DBBP) to launch 'Ashiana', an initiative to help children struggling to combat the drug menace.
A panel discussion entitled, 'Substance abuse amongst marginalised youngsters' was held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga on June 6.
During the discussion, the Chief Guest Father Savio Silveira, Vice Provincial of Mumbai province, released a book on the stories of children who have successfully beaten the drug-habit.
Saloni Shah, the project co-ordinator, then presented the journey of DBBP. A panel discussion followed, moderated by Sister Jacinta Pinto, assistant director of DDBP.
Among the other noted speakers was, Dr Sunita Shanbaug who addressed the patterns of substance abuse among marginalised children. Mayuri then spoke on the issue of prevention and need based intervention.
Finally, Dr Susan Mathew, co-ordinator at the Research Centre, Matunga advised on how to put all the talk into action, by implementing the one-step action-oriented approach.
India is one of the few countries that does not have a substance abuse policy. Children without access to high quality drugs often use volatile substances, such as cough syrups, that are easily available.
Childline estimates that 20 million children a year and nearly 55,000 children a day are drawn into a tobacco addition in India. The number is shocking when compared to the 3000 a day new child smokers in the US.
Several Directors of NGO's and Father Ajoy Fernandes (director of Don Bosco Research Centre), Father Gregory Almeida (director of Don Bosco Balprafulta) and Father Jesu (executive director of Shelter Don Bosco) were present.
They underlined the urgent need to work in close collaboration with like-minded NGO's to create a drug free future for the lesser-privileged children.