Drug use among private and public secondary school students will be evaluated when a Secondary Schools Survey gets underway from today at 18 schools across Barbados.

Approximately 1, 469 students from second to sixth form will be surveyed over the next four to five months, during the study being conducted by the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA), in conjunction with the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).

This was revealed recently by Manager of the NCSA, Yolande Forde, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with CICAD at the Organization of American States??? (OAS) headquarters at Harts Gap, Hastings, Christ Church.

Noting Barbados received full funding for the survey to the tune of $30, 000, Ms. Forde explained that the NCSA did not want to develop youth programmes and policy by intuition, but grounded in research.

???It is important we at the National Council on Substance Abuse are kept informed of their views of certain drugs both legal and illegal and with respect to their current behaviours and practices. The study will allow us to do this. The information will be used to inform the development, and revamping or refinement of our drug prevention programming for the 12 to 17 cohort,??? she said.

This view was supported by OAS Representative, Francis McBarnette, who also noted that the study would allow for the establishment of a platform of knowledge and research to formulate programmes and policies. ???We want to ensure that the policies countries get involved with are evidence-based and that they are implemented,??? he said.

Head of Research at the NCSA, Jonathan Yearwood, explained that the study would follow a methodology developed by CICAD using standardised questionnaires.

He added that it was designed to look at drug prevalence among secondary school students, and covered areas to look at first time use, those who have used drugs more than once and the most recent use ??? within the last 12 months or within the last 30 days.

Mr. Yearwood explained that such indicators were very important in determining if drug use among students was becoming problematic, especially with those who used it within the last 30 days. ???That is not to say that first time use is not important because we would like to deter young people from becoming involved in substance abuse ???,??? he said.

He added that other areas of focus would be the age of the first use, behaviour and discipline problems among adolescents, where the drugs are being used where they are sourcing the drugs, the accessibility of the drugs to the students and the student???s perception to the use of the substances.

???These are some of the most prominent areas which they try to feed in at the NCSA,??? Mr. Yearwood said.


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