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Going by reports posted by the police on social media, people are being frequently busted trying to smuggle or traffic drugs.

Since the police cracked down on drugs towards the end of 2013, almost 1,400 people have been arrested as of October this year.

A rough calculation would put that at at least one person, on average, being arrested every day for a drug related cause.

This is an incredibly alarming number.

While the crack down is likely to be exposing a rough measure of the extent of drug related offences in the country, it is also likely to drive this highly damaging industry further into the ground.

We have seen it else where. The USA continues to battle drug trafficking despite all the money, personnel and technology it has thrown at it. The traffickers continue to evolve their delivery methods, using tunnels, submarines, and more recently, even unmanned aerial vehicles like drones.

Despite the death penalty for drug trafficking in some countries, people continue to attempt to smuggle drugs into them.

No matter how strong or sophisticated enforcement becomes, poverty and demand combine for a dangerous cocktail that motivates people to take the risk.

While the government works on curbing demand by strengthening rehabilitation for drug abusers, there is also a need to dissuade potential drug users, the youth, from turning to drugs, either because of peer pressure or a need to escape as a result of pain in their lives.

Of those arrested two factors stand out. Almost 800 were aged below 24, and around 1,000 included those who are unemployed, privately employed, or farmers.

There is a need to change society’s approach to how we deal with youth who have to confront difficult situations, so that they do not choose the easy way out by turning to drugs or even alcohol.

It has to start in the schools and the home. There is a need to invest more significantly in counselling. We need both full-time counsellors and teachers who are properly equipped in terms of training and understanding on how to advice our children on facing and persisting through difficult situations.

Awareness also has to be raised among adults and parents that our approach to the youth must be more empathetic and horizontal, rather than authoritarian. We need to understand them and provide them with tailor made help. Each youth will have different needs and ways of being reached.

Guaranteeing employment, especially self-employment is another measure and we know the government and many non-governmental organizations are working towards instilling a new work attitude.

But there are crinkles that need to be ironed out. For instance, a legitimate trade of late night street vending was recently banned. The reasons provided were not convincing. We’re sending the wrong message that you cannot earn an honest income.

There is no blame to be passed around. Everyone involved in the upbringing of the youth are doing their bit. But we must acknowledge that there is always much room for improvement especially when it comes to the future of our nation, the youth.

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