SENATOR Ronald dela Rosa has pushed for the implementation of substance abuse prevention education to children as young as 10 years old or those in fourth grade, saying this "could drastically help combat the drug problem" in the country.
The neophyte lawmaker filed recently Senate Bill 228, which proposes the inclusion of the substance abuse prevention education from fourth grade to 12th grade.
Through this, he said, children will be given enough information about the dangers of substance abuse and will be able to resist the pressure to use drugs.
"This proposed measure is a solution to the problem on drugs as evidenced by various researches which proved that introduction to drug addiction and prevention of substance abuse and its harmful effect to the young generation could drastically help combat the drug problem in many countries," he said.
He cited a study, which says "people are more likely to develop an addiction if they start using illegal substances at a young age."
"The youth, once involved in drug abuse will likely have academic, relationship and health problems. This leads to lower grades, dropping out from schools and having damaged physical, cognitive and emotional development," Dela Rosa said.
At present, the substance abuse prevention is introduced to Grade 9 students or those who are 14 or 15 years old, but Dela Rosa said this is "too late" as some teenagers at this age "may be already involved or even have tried illegal drugs."
"We know for a fact that in our Oplan Tokhang, the youngest surrenderer is as young as seven years old, yung substance abuser, seven years old, so I think we have to, ibaba natin yan from Grade 9 gusto ko magiging Grade 4 (lower it from Grade 9 to 4). Mag start ng Grade 4 (Let's starte with Grade 4). Grade 4 is around 10 years old, 10 o 11. I think dapat agahan natin (I think we should start early), start them young," he said.
Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency data showed that as of 2017, there are 4.7 million drug users in the country, while the Dangerous Drug Boards recorded 4.8 million people aging 10 to 69 who have tried using illegal drugs at least once.
Both PDEA and DDB reported that 20,872 out of the 42,036 barangays in the county are drug affected. (Ryniel Berlanga/SunStar Philippines)