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A National Statistics Bureau’s (NSB) study has found that drugs and alcohol are the chief factors leading young people to commit crimes.

What strikes us immediately is as if we knew nothing about it. But what is significant about the report is that it shows our legislators and stakeholders what they can do in their capacity to address the problem.

Drug peddling has now become a lucrative business even in the rural pockets of the country. This means that what used to be problems specific to the towns has entered in the villages. It is not difficult to surmise the complications that our otherwise calm and peaceful cousins in the rural areas are now having to go through.

The question is one of availability. How difficult is it for people to transport controlled substances? Going by the amount of narcotics we seize every now and then, there are loopholes in the system. And, where in our towns do we not get alcohol? In fact, every second shop is a bar where anyone can go and down liquor of his choice until legs cannot hold the body and tongue cannot call the next shot.

Where we should have more bookstores and educative centres, we have bars and pubs myriad. But why, really?

We seem to make a joke of ourselves. Sometimes we ban alcohol import in an effort to reduce the availability that is at the core of the problem for the young, the next we find ourselves lifting the ban because vast availability of alcohol is good.

Same has happened with our effort to control tobacco. We have put in measures to control, yet the availability of tobacco products has increased. We do not need studies to show us by how much the availability of tobacco products has grown. We could not even implement the regulation that mandates every office, bar, restaurant and hotel to provide a space where smokers can engage in their habit.

What is interesting about drugs is that they find easy access from both north and south. We know this, yet we haven’t the mechanisms to deal with it. But then, we also know that the number and the kind of crimes related to young people is not seasonal as we thought it was.

According to NSB, 40 percent of crimes committed by young people are due to influence of alcohol. Only 12 percent of crimes committed by youth are due to drugs. This fact urges us to demand consistent, honest and regular study. Otherwise, there is the danger of missing the real picture.

Where we fail is in the implementation of rules and regulations. It is almost as if we are not serious about dealing with emerging social problems. Let there be rules, rules with teeth indeed. We must figure out what is to be done with easy accessibility of drugs and alcohol. Solutions must be found. The sooner we do this, the better.

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