Prevalence and Patterns of Drug Abuse in a Children’s Home for Boys in Delhi
S. Sharma, A. Singh Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences, India/ Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice, India
Patterns of drug abuse in children are determined not only by the availability and cost of different substances but also by the dynamics and differences within groups, cultures, and age groups. The information about the prevalence in children in India is very limited. Drug abuse patterns are complex, constantly changing phenomena. By monitoring drug abuse over time, it is possible to evaluate whether programs are having any impact. In this respect the focus on the pattern of drug abuse in a children’s home can be highly rewarding. “Prayas Children’s Home” for boys is located in the heart of Delhi city. Until 1997, this home was maintained by the Government of Delhi but since then it has been handed over to Prayas, a leading NGO for children in Delhi. It houses 150 street children who are brought by the police when they are unable to trace family members. Male children between 6 to 16 years are kept. The home has a well-equipped dispensary to look after the health of the children. Each child is given a medical checkup and brief orientation on the home and its daily living. Most of the children stay there for 3 months or less under the juvenile justice act.
Method: A structured questionnaire probing onset pattern of drug abuse was administered to all children who were admitted to the children’s home.
Result: Tobacco was the most prevalent substance, followed by Hashish and other drugs. It was observed that there are two determinants of behavior which are important in the context of drug use in children: firstly the importance of peers as role models in addition to the continuing role modeling by parents, the second is a tendency of these street children to take risks and to challenge established rules and values. The knowledge emerging from this study can be very valuable to develop effective programs of “preventive education” and to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention program and monitoring.