A youth group working with Good Neighbours Cambodia yesterday urged the government to increase drug prevention initiatives among minors after a report showed children are often exposed to drug use and trafficking.
The plea was made during the National Youth Forum on Drug Prevention and Youth Development in Phnom Penh.
The forum was organised by GNC, and was attended by representatives of ministries and more than 200 people.
Rin Norngkea, head of a volunteer youth group in Dangkor district, said volunteers from the group conducted a survey on children’s exposure to drugs in communities.
Ms Norngkea said volunteers interviewed 283 children aged 13 to 18 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kratie and Mondulkiri.
She said 92 percent responded they are aware of issues surrounding drugs, and 80 percent said they have seen drug use and trafficking in the communities they live in.
Ms Norngkea said that most children do not dare to report cases to their parents, noting that 89 percent of children are afraid of drug users committing violence, theft and sexual crimes.
“The survey found that 72 percent of the children said they are afraid of being introduced, persuaded or forced to use drugs by offenders,” she said. “Four percent of children said they were introduced to drug use, while three percent said they have used drugs.”
“Drugs are a major obstacle to the development of communities, children and youths,” she added. “Intervention from the government, police and teachers is most necessary.”
San Channa, a 17-year-old from Mondulkiri, said in rural areas, initiatives preventing drug use have been less effective.
“When children are drawn to drug use and alcohol consumption, it affects their future. It makes them drop out of school and not want to work,” Mr Channa said. “I am also concerned because drugs will lead to theft and domestic violence.”
Jaekyun Rho, country director for Good Neighbours Cambodia, said fighting drug use is the responsibility of everyone and people at the grassroots level need to be protected from drugs.
“[Prevention] requires very strong accountability, unity and cooperation among [national and local authorities],” he said.
Thong Sokunthea, deputy secretary-general of the National Authority for Combatting Drugs, yesterday said the report will help ministries tackle drug consumption.
Mr Sokunthea said the government has been working to suppress drug use and prevent trafficking by disseminating information and educating people living in rural communities.
“This study sheds light, and it provides good information,” he said. “I encourage them to continue the work because it helps prevent drug use.”