With the number of cases of substance abuse increasing among locals, Goa State Police today launched an awareness initiative that involved reaching out to children across schools in Goa.
The move — the police say was deliberated after they saw increasing numbers of alcohol-related accidents and cases of drug abuse among youth in Goa.
In a first — the police on Saturday roped in medical experts from Goa Medical College and visited a school in north Goa to give the maiden lecture. The choice of the school, Our Lady of Merces was made as a number of offenders have been reported to be coming from areas around the same school.
“In our records we have a lot of offenders coming from areas around Merces. These are youths who have fallen to bad times. We are hoping to start again by reaching out to the children in this area and ensure they do not get influenced to substance abuse,” says Chandan Choudhary, Superintendent of Police, North Goa. “These are impressionable minds and we need to ensure we reach out to them before they take to anything wrong.”
According to Choudhary, the awareness campaign will now spread systematically and strategically to all the schools where police officials will make an appeal to children through case studies and presentations.
On Sunday Dr. Rajesh Patil, a laparoscopic surgeon from Goa medical college who has presented a paper on alcoholism spoke to children of classes eight to ten — and made them aware of the various illnesses one could contract due to substance abuse.
The slides explained the various parts of the body and the impact they suffer due to substance abuse. Dr. Patil explained the trauma an individual and family go through due to alcohol and drug abuse. “This is also about reaching them at a young age. Many must be seeing alcohol consumption at home or are forced due to peer pressure. We arrived at this awareness program after much thought. This will evolve and we plan to take it to schools and reach out with much force,” he added. Dr Patil also asked the students to make at least one visit to any of the Alcoholics Anonymous workshops in the state along with their parents. “There is a general stigma attached to it. Its a necessity now to understand what the individual goes through. In fact, I would advise everyone, including adults to just sit in one session and hear the stories. It changes the way we look at things,” he added.
Choudhary who has the entire north belt — which comprises of beaches and tourist attractions says the menace of alcohol and drugs are only increasing. The number of cases of road accidents due to drunken driving has seen a steep increase in Goa, while she added that many a law and order situation is now closely related to it.
In the presentation where she stood and spoke to students, she appealed, “Its ok to fail at times. But don’t fall under peer pressure and chose substance abuse as a solution. Learn to accept failures and strive to be better. Also, seek help when you feel the need. There is no shame in asking for help. We will reach out to you again with everything you need to know,” she told school children.
“With this programme, we hope to also later map the vulnerable areas and look closely on how we can offer help. We then also plan to extend support groups on a case to case basis across villages. We do not want to sound ambitious but we feel the time and need has arrived. It’s no longer a threat to tourists. The numbers are showing,” she added.