By Kadeem Joseph
The Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) is calling for an “immediate intervention” to tackle the growing number of the nation’s youth who are using marijuana and alcohol.
Annetta Alexander Hunte, the outgoing General Secretary of the A&BUT, agreed that since the passage of the law that decriminalised usage of marijuana, the issue of the substance being used by school aged children has escalated.
“The union sounded the call on this law and the implications it would have on our young people, but I think society, the government, they turned a blind eye,” she said. “We knew it would create havoc in our schools.”
The educator said that, on a daily basis, students are coming to school “high” as they are smoking marijuana immediately before and after school.
She said that “intervention is needed immediately or we might lose a generation”.
The union official said students are using cannabis infused sugar cakes and brownies and she questioned who is supplying the children with these products.
Hunte is not only calling for the re-introduction of an anti-drug use programme led by the police, but she is also calling on parents to play their part.
“They need to stop sitting and smoking with our children,” she admonished, noting that children are also vaping within school premises.
While educators have expressed concerns over the use of cannabis among school-aged children, Hunte said alcohol use is also “rampant” among students.
“No monitoring systems are in place or agencies that insist that our children should not consume alcohol,” she added.
Last week, the government admitted that the move to decriminalise the cultivation and use of marijuana for personal use is potentially contributing to the prevalence of substance abuse among youth in Antigua and Barbuda.
The admission followed word from the police that marijuana is one of the substances most abused by children in the country.