Fri, 24 Nov 2000

Ministry data shows over 1,800 students use drugs

JAKARTA (JP): At least 1,875 students from 318 junior and senior high schools in the capital are known to be new drug users this year, official data from the Ministry of National Education shows.

"Most students exposed to drugs and narcotics are those coming from the lower economic class," Rozali Arsyad, deputy chief of the Jakarta office of the Ministry of National Education, said on Thursday during a national antitobacco campaign at a high school in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta.

"We tried to help them through counseling but so many are in rough shape and we had to direct them to their parents," he said.

Out of the 1,875 students, 575 have had to go through a thorough rehabilitation with their parents.

"But only those who have money can undergo detoxification and rehabilitation. This is very concerning," Rozali said.

Official data reveals that from a total of 1,030 high schools in Jakarta, 166 found drug-related cases involving 1,015 students.

Out of 1,060 junior high schools in Jakarta, 152 also reported similar problems affecting 860 pupils.

The real number of teenage drug users may be even higher as many cases go undetected or are hidden to avoid public humiliation.

"Please don't smoke because from that habit you can easily turn to drugs," Rozali told students during Thursday's campaign.

The campaign is part of a series in an antitobacco drive for young people, which covers five major cities.

Attending the event were two young Indonesian athletes -- badminton star Taufik Hidayat and basketball player Rommy Chandra.

The two athletes shared their experience with smoking and warned students not to start the habit or to quit if they already had.

"You can still be cool without cigarettes," Rommy said.

What is most notable about the campaign is that it is sponsored by several cigarette companies.

The Rp 450 million campaign called "Catch A Star" is sponsored by the Indonesian White Cigarette Producer Association (Gaprindo), which comprises the country's 12 major cigarette producers. (edt)