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Over two lakh of Delhi’s street children lured into substance abuse

An extensive study concludes that street children buy substances worth Rs.27 lakh per day in the Capital from illegal sources available to them.

There are around 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh street children in the Capital and almost 80 per cent of them are involved in substance abuse, a study by Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action (CHETNA), an organisation working for the cause of children, has found.

Even if the children earn Rs.50 per day, their major money goes into buying white fluids, cannabis and tobacco for inhalation. The study by CHETNA also concludes that the street children buy substances worth Rs.27 lakh per day in the Capital from various illegal sources available to them.

The areas in Delhi where drug abuse among children is the highest include Nizamuddin, Nehru Place, Govindpuri, Taimur Nagar and under Okhla flyover.

A similar study conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) from 135 sites in 27 States has thrown light on the widespread substance abuse across the country.

According to the study, nearly 85 per cent of the street children who are into substance abuse are from urban areas, 58.8 per cent of them were not studying and only 22.9 per cent went to regular school. Among the substances the children are addicted to, tobacco was found to be the most widely used, followed by alcohol, inhalants and cannabis.

Peer pressure is the most important factor that drives the children to substance abuse. The susceptibility of street children, however, is much higher than those living with their families and going to school. According to the study, the main reason for school going children and children living with their families taking to drugs is the influence of another family member who uses drugs, followed by family fights and abuse.

The NCPCR in its study has also made some recommendations to prevent drug and substance abuse by children. Providing life skill methods and education to children is one of them.

CHETNA, which works for the rehabilitation of street children, also works for the cause of children addicted to drugs. The organisation runs a shelter home for such children in Nizamuddin area. Its founder Sanjay said: “Imparting education to children is the most effective way in which we try to get their mind off drugs. However, there are a number of challenges that we face. Most children complain that they are not able to keep away from drugs because it is available everywhere. They tell us – stop the sale of drugs and we will not buy it.”

“It is not in our hands to stop the sale of drugs, the government should do something about it,” added Mr. Sanjay.

“Lack of parental support is also the reason that many young boys relapse. We take care of them for the time they are with us but once they go back home, there is no one to see what they do,” he added.

~ Kritika Sharma

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