First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa was spot on at the weekend when she warned children against drug abuse, early child marriages and other such pursuits that have afflicted the young generation.
Describing children as future leaders, the First Lady stressed the importance of ridding society of such misdemeanours and urged young girls and boys to pursue education to safeguard their future and that of our country.
She was addressing at least 500 children at Longcheng Plaza in Harare.
Indeed, drug abuse has become a serious challenge among schoolchildren and the youth in general, with devastating consequences such as mental illness or even death.
Those exposed to drug and substance abuse become social misfits and engage in such crimes as rape, armed robbery or even murder.
We have recorded cases where teenagers killed their parents while under the influence of drugs and other substances. The problem is real and demands urgent attention.
Abusers often justify the use of such drugs as marijuana and substances as high dosage of cough syrups and prescription drugs such as stop pain tablets, as a cushion from poverty, unemployment and other socio-economic challenges.
There are always solutions to the many challenges in life. Drug abuse only compounds an already bad situation.
Exposure through television, social media and the Internet to foreign cultures where drug abuse is commonplace has had a debilitating effect on the social fabric, exposing our young to such vagaries as dangerous drugs.
Peer pressure has also led to an increase in drug abuse in schools.
It is sad to note that children from elite schools top the list of drug and substance abusers.
Previous research has shown that in those circles drug abuse is taken as a status symbol for the rich and famous.
Some drugs such as cocaine sell for not less than $100 so only the rich can buy them hence they flex their financial muscle in this way.
In other not-so-rich communities, drugs like mbanje and cough syrups are within reach of many as they sell for a few dollars, hence the rampant cases of drug abuse recorded.
In most instances it is no longer news that so and so sells drugs or consumes drugs. We are made to understand that in schools, those that do not abuse drugs are chided and end up taking the drugs to prove a point.
This is a sad situation that requires families, communities, schools, churches and all members of society to pull together and ensure that the menace is dealt with.
The police also have a role to be more vigilant in their crackdown against drug dealers. Reports that some members of the force enter deals with drug dealers cannot be tolerated, but should, instead, be investigated and dealt with.
The young are tomorrow’s leaders and they have a role to play to safeguard their lives and the environment within which they live.
It needs to be inculcated persistently that the future lies in better education and sober habits that foster development.
Parents need to look after their children and spend time with them so that they can easily detect wayward behaviour. It is not fashionable to let their children be whoever they choose to be without proper guidance.
Having rich parents should not lead to a destructive path of life, but should instead lead to a lifestyle that inspires our youngsters to emulate the hard work put in by their parents in achieving a good life.
The disappearance of a culture of responsibility and togetherness where a child belonged to the community and where grannies, aunts and uncles counselled the young about the facts of life has also exposed our young ones to drug peddling and other ills.
We need to launch an aggressive campaign against drug abuse. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure we raise sober children who will play their part in the development discourse.
Africa’s youth are an asset that will propel the continent into the future. So this asset must be safeguarded and guided on a proper growth path to foster a change for the development of the continent.