Al Jazeera

Drug Use among Indonesian Children is Pervasive

The Indonesian public were surprised by the latest report from the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) which states that of 87 million children in Indonesia, 5.9 million have become drug addicts and 1.6 million children have also become drug dealers. Narcotics is a classic issue in Indonesia, but people did not realise that the number of children affected was growing.

The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) is currently working hard to remind parents and schools to pay more attention to children, especially because the drug network in Indonesia will continue to benefit from the regeneration of market share and it is predicted to continue to target children under the age of 18 years.

Emergency Situation

As the 4th largest population in the world with 88 million middle class citizens with growing purchasing power, Indonesia is no doubt one of the promising markets for the drug mafia. The country’s vast seas are still not well guarded and therefore smuggling drugs into the country is not difficult.

The head of BNN, Komjen Pol Budi Waseso, said narcotics are mostly produced in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Africa and China. Based on his investigation, these countries consider Indonesia to be their biggest market share.

Drugs are a real threat because it destroys the young generation of Indonesians. Drug users in Indonesia are reportedly students, especially those who are still in junior and senior high schools. Drug-emergency status is pinned to Indonesia because the number of deaths due to drugs has reached 50 per day. Waseso also highlighted that there are 60 drug networks operating in Indonesia, causing the state losses to reach 63.1 trillion Indonesian rupiah (approximately $4 million).

Securing borders

KPAI argues that young Indonesians will not be free from drug threats if prevention efforts by the government are not fully undertaken. This is because threats from international drug dealers has grown so massively.

The government has been exerting efforts to tighten security at the country’s maritime borders. The strategy was quite fruitful when in early February the Indonesian Navy managed to capture the MV Sunrise Glory Ship in the Strait of Philips, Indonesian’s border with Singapore, which is precisely located in the waters of the Riau Islands. More than one ton of shabu was successfully seized.

Approximately a week later, the combined Customs and Police officers serving in Port BC Batam also searched a suspected Taiwanese ship and found 1.6 tons of shabu which was about to be smuggled.

The effort of securing the country’s border should be continued and improved to prevent more drugs from foreign dealers from entering the Archipelago.

Other efforts are needed

Efforts to combat illegal drug cases is not enough if the government relies heavily on police and the BNN alone because the BNN only has 4,600 employees. The limited availability of officers, facilities, and technology in the BNN has been the reason why the problem of drugs has not been properly solved.

Hence, more efforts are needed which should involve the whole community. Every stratum of society must work hand-in-hand to save the Indonesian youth from drugs.

Integrating family, religion, and social networks are needed to keep children away from illegal drugs. A psychological approach must also be employed so that when a child has problems they can receive sufficient attention. If stress and depression are ignored, especially by their families, they will seek another way to escape. One of those is by consuming illegal drugs.

It is also important to be aware that the growing use of illicit drugs could also lead to increased cases of calamitous diseases, such as HIV, caused by unsafe injection practices. Crucially, these young individuals are also at a greater risk of contracting tuberculosis from prolonged use of alcohol, opioids, cocaine, and cannabis.

The growing use of illegal drugs among Indonesian children should make it clear that concrete efforts must be made by both the government and the whole community. If they are not taken, the implications could be disastrous, not only for the health and future of our young population but also for the wider society.