Jan 28, 2019 News
By Michael Jordan
Director of Mae’s Secondary Paul Burnette believes that the growing problem of drug use among school-age youths demands that random testing be introduced in secondary schools.
He plans to raise the possibility of such testing at the elite private institution, which has been shaken by the suicide of a sixth form student. Police have been told that a pharmacist, with whom she had a relationship, had given the student ‘Ecstasy’ to sell to her peers.
“Definitely, we will have to put this (random testing) in schools,” Burnette told Kaieteur News yesterday, following several attempts to have him consent to an interview.
He suggested that the issue of random testing at Mae’s be in contracts that parents sign when enrolling their children. This will mean that any testing will be done with the approval of a parent.
The 15-year-old female student took her own life last Thursday after distributing two suicide notes to her friends and teachers.
Police have detained a 20-year-old pharmacist who has reportedly told police that he provided the teen with ‘Ecstasy’ pills. He had been released as police await an autopsy, which is scheduled for today.
Kaieteur News understands that the teen had told some relatives that the relationship started when she was 13 and that she was introduced to ‘Ecstasy’ and other substances.
The Director, who expressed concern for what he said was “false reporting” in some media circles, insisted that no Ecstasy was found in the school.
He also said that the teen had displayed no signs of having any serious issues.
“She was a simple, regular student; there was no indication that she had any problems. When she died, it just blew us away.”
But Burnette said that the tragedy has placed the spotlight on a troubling issue.
“Don’t look at her as (only) a victim; look at her as a hero, because her death has exposed a major problem in our society.”
He urged parents to look for signs of drug use and to allow their children to feel more comfortable in approaching them with issues that bother them.
“Some parents know (when their children are using drugs). Some parents need to stop suppressing and hiding things. They need to seek help. There are so many NGOs out there. Fathers also need to play a bigger role, apart from just bringing money.”
In the meantime, he said that school officials will “continue our mission to keep it (drugs) out of our school, and encourage the kids to speak about their problems. Drugs are used to suppress things, like self-hate.”
Ministry of Education officials held a counseling session last Friday with the students, and Burnette said that officials have promised to assist whenever it is requested.
It was just three months ago that Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjatan and an official of the country’s premier drug enforcement agency expressed worry about the growing use of ‘Ecstasy’ in schools.
Deputy Head of the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU), Leslie Ramlall had said that “there is a growing presence of ‘Ecstasy’ among our young population especially children attending schools. The drug now seems readily available at many night clubs and parties.”
Ramlall had stated that Ecstasy use among students was uncovered at schools in Regions Three and Four.
Ecstasy, which is also known as Molly or the ‘Pill’, is an illegal synthetic drug. It is sometimes referred to as a “date rape drug” because it is used as an incapacitating agent which when administered to another person, incapacitates the person and renders them vulnerable to drug-facilitated sexual assault, including rape.
The synthetic drug often comes in a pill form innocently resembles hard-candy.
“While most of our seizures would have indicated that cannabis and cocaine are the dominant narcotics, I urge you to take serious note of the synthetic drugs such as heroin, ecstasy and crystal methamphetamine, all of which were seized by the Unit in 2018.
“This is certainly a new trend and a very worrying one for Guyana,” Ramlall said.
Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said, “To see it in schools means that we are losing the battle. It is a bad thing.”
He had also called on parents, religious institutions, and communities to assist law enforcement agencies in the fight against the illicit and licit drugs.
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