Sep 30, 2020 Letters
Child protection and detection is needed from substance-abusing environment.
Unsurpassed amazement soon gave way to unbridled anger on reading of the demise of Ronaldo Dave, the two-year-old toddler, who died days after purportedly ingesting “Molly”– laced milk. While mourning the tragic and senseless loss of such a young life, one cannot help but juxtapose it against the grossly negligent attitude of those tasked with parenting the future generation. It has become blatantly apparent that the term abuse suffers from severe confusion or concept distortion. This may be due in part to the fact that neglect denotes absence or omission of caregiving rather than commission of discrete acts that endanger the welfare of a child and is therefore more difficult to assess.
Why should a toddler totally dependent on adults for his overall care and well-being, be forced to dwell among those who use mood and perception altering substances? Where was at least one of the parents of this hapless victim? Taking all into full consideration, it is my firmly– held conviction that both the aunt and the uncle of the victim should be the recipients of the full force of the law, receiving sentences that would long serve as a deterrent to others of similar intention or inclination. Additionally they should not be allowed to be in contact with children of a certain age, even their own offspring. Every child in Guyana regardless of race deserves to be raised by individuals who are totally committed to the task of parenting, and in no way compromise their holistic growth. According to Guyana’s Child Protection Act of 2009, a child has the right to grow in a healthy environment that is safe for his/her development.
This lamentable tragedy should not be allowed to slip away unnoticed into oblivion. The young toddler, senselessly robbed of the ability to reach even kindergarten level of schooling should serve as the archetype or poster child portraying to the public the dangers of drug use in the presence of children of such a tender age. It should further serve, as a clarion call to spur the Children Protective Services into action, thereby averting any further incidents of such a nature. There should be an immediate withdrawal of all children from homes with identified drug users. Community awareness should be continuously aroused and identified homes with children at risk brought to the attention of authorities. Conclusively, a social report/evaluation should be conducted prior to the release from prison of all convicted drug offenders. Teachers should also be on the lookout for children living with elephants in their homes – substance abusing parents, guardians and/ or relatives.
Molly the street name for MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, also known as Ecstasy) is a synthetic substance that has been around more than 100 years, with deadly consequences. Furthermore, research has shown that children living in homes with substance abusers, be it parents or significant others, are at risk for a wide variety of negative outcomes such as social, emotional and behavioural adjustment problems. Emotional and behavioural outcomes among children living in a substance abuse environment are reported among those as young as two to three years of age.
The newly-installed government is now called upon to put in place measures that would protect and preserve Guyana’s most vulnerable, giving them the best possible chance to achieve their full potential. From a judicial standpoint drug users should face sentences that would serve as a deterrent, correlating to even harsher penalties for the sellers. Consideration should also be given to the renewed implementation of programmes aimed at prevention and cessation. If the youths are viewed as the leaders of tomorrow, then special attention and consideration should be paid as to how they are being treated today.
There will be no one to lead if we do not stop and take heed.
Sincere sympathy go out to the grieving family in their loss.
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