THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Delinquent Malayali kids offer a contrast to substance-addicted children elsewhere in the country. When children between the age of 5 and 18 in other parts of the country are addicted to heroin, sedatives and injectables, kids and teenagers in Kerala are generally immune to the lure of such intoxicants. Instead, the state's kids have been found to be one of the biggest users of inhalants like ink eraser fluid, petrol and glue. This was revealed in a nationwide study on substance use among children.
Alcohol and tobacco use were also found to be high among children in the state. The study was commissioned by National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights in collaboration with National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to examine the pattern, profile and correlates of substance use among Indian children. This is the first nation-wide study reaching out to a reasonably large sample of school going/out of school/street children across various cities and towns in India spanning 29 states/union territories. Use of substance among children is basically due to curiosity, the study notes.
"Peer pressure and also low perception of harm, migration, poverty and street life also adds to the menace," it adds. The final study sample comprised of 4,024 children. Of this 119 were from Kerala. Seventy-four per cent of children sampled in Kerala were found to use tobacco regularly. Sixty-one per cent of Kerala children were addicted to alcohol. It was the use of cannabis (bhang, charas, ganja, sulpha) that turned out to be a shocker. More than 20 per cent of the boys sampled used cannabis regularly. This was higher than even Andhra Pradesh (12 per cent) or Tamil Nadu (10 per cent). A huge 33.6 per cent of children in Kerala use inhalants. Its use is less in Tamil Nadu (7.5 per cent), Karnataka (27.8 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (7.1 per cent).