More Girls On Alcohol

Monday, 12 January 2009 12:07

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Alcohol and Inhalant use by female students in Barbados is on the rise.

The 2006 Barbados Secondary School survey revealed that more females were using these substances than males, as compared with the statistics of 2002.

It also revealed that there had been a decline in the use of marijuana by both males and females in 2006.

Most children's perception of the legal/illegal drugs was that either smoking, drinking, or inhaling them sometimes was not as bad as if you used them frequently, which in effect showed that they were still willing to try.

The study, undertaken from October to December 2006 by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) in collaboration with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission in 23 public and private secondary schools, targeted second, fourth and fifth formers between the ages of 11 and 17, and 2 220 students completed questionnaires.

Most of these children would have started trying the various substances between the ages of ten and 13 and would have been given them mostly by friends.

"As I look around the room I see a lot of females and a lot of you are mothers, so this is useful information for you to monitor your young ones," said research and information officer of the NCSA, Jonathan Yearwood, in his presentation of the findings.

Of students repeating one or more school years, due to behavioural problems, 81.5 per cent had used alcohol, 24.1 per cent had used inhalants, and 26.9 per cent had used marijuana.

Among those who did not repeat, the comparative figures were 74.2 per cent, 20.6 and 15.6.

Principal of The Lester Vaughan School Alvin Carter said it was no surprise to him that girls' use of these substances was on the rise.

Carter questioned whether there was a correlation between the heightened aggressiveness and negative behaviour in the school population and "this increasing creeping of substance abuse in females".

"You see far more violence among the female students than among the males. There is more graffiti outside and inside the bathrooms of females at my school, and it is my understanding, although I don't ride the buses, that a significant amount of the negative behaviour on school buses is perpetrated by females.

"We need to spend a little more time looking at the females in our system who are mothers and, unfortunately so, the nation builders of tomorrow," he added.

Good news from the study was that 65 per cent of students had never used an illegal drug, while 87 per cent are currently not using illegal drugs.

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