Muscat: School pupils as young as 12 have been identified by social workers as addicted to various substances, a new study has revealed.
Drug abuse, especially smoking among boys in primary grades, has become a cause for concern for parents and school teachers.
A study shows social workers received between three and four cases of abuse in schools, mostly involving boys who were caught smoking or chewing tobacco inside the school premises.
A study conducted by Dr Majdi Abdraboo, Assistant Professor of Society and Labour Department at Sultan Qaboos University, revealed: “The number of drug abuse cases treated by social workers at schools (the study featured 19 social workers) was 61 (three to four cases for each social worker).”
“The results confirmed that 38.5 per cent of the sample of female social workers reported that female schools are completely devoid of drug abuse, smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol,” according to the study.
“In most cases, the habit starts as a result of students searching for happiness they hear drugs can bring, or because of the problems they face during adolescence, and to escape social and financial problems, to imitate adults, false beliefs, bad company, family breakdowns, loss of faith, weak follow-up of the family with the student or curiosity,” according to the study.
Abdullah Said Nasser Al Harrasi, a nurse at Al Masara Hospital, said a specialised programme in schools can be used to prevent or avoid adolescents from succumbing to peer pressure. The programme is called “computer-based interventions” (CBI) and targets teenagers who use drugs.
“A programme mainly consists of computerised 20-minute sessions facilitated by a narrative imaginary storyline, followed by a 20-minute interactive classroom lesson delivered by a teacher.”
He added: “The programme, which uses videos and cartoons, has a very high level of success in improving adolescents’ knowledge and can change their future attitudes toward situations that relate to illicit drug usage.”
In addition, CBI can also positively change the negative behaviour that accompanies drug use among teenagers, such as psychological distress, moral disengagement, and school absenteeism.
“Computer educational programmes aim to activate and motivate students’ brains when they face situations associated with drug use and teach them how to avoid drug use. In addition, the interaction between teenagers and the automated electronic course content provides the freedom to ask questions and get the required response. The information is well-developed and tailored to particular behaviours with regard to attitudes toward addiction,” Al Harassi added.