Is Kenya slowly becoming a ‘drinking’ nation? The soaring numbers of teenagers indulging in alcohol is indeed alarming and if nothing is done, the country could be raising a ‘high’ generation.
A disturbing clip on KTN on Thursday showed some young high school students staggering through Ruiru town, after having one too many for the road. The students had allegedly consumed illicit brew and residents were forced to rush about 12 of them who were highly intoxicated to hospital. The students, who were carrying their school bags and dressed in their uniforms, were reported to be from a secondary school in Kiambu County.
ACCESS TO DRINK AND DRUGS
Even though police reported that they had arrested some of them, it’s a sad scenario really that portrays just how easy it is for underage children to access drugs and alcoholic drinks in the country. The law is clear that alcohol and cigarettes should not be sold to persons under the age of 18 years but judging from the above cases, and many similar ones that go unreported, it seems like law enforcement agencies have failed on this.
Even more disturbing is that unlike in the past where access to clubs was restricted to persons above 21 years, nowadays teenagers are flocking into clubs and drinking as much to the extent of forcing adult revelers to find alternative clubs that admit more mature people.
Last year, 1000 teenagers were arrested in Nairobi city nightclubs in a Police crackdown following complaints that most bars and clubs in the capital were full of school-going children.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) alcohol is increasingly affecting younger generations and drinkers in developing countries including Kenya. NACADA estimates that half of all alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10 and 19 years old.
The drinking culture for young adults is said to begin at the primary school level all through to secondary school and university.
PARENTS TO BE NABBED
Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero is of the opinion that parents are to blame for cases of children starting to consume alcohol at a tender age since they expose the kids to alcohol at home.
Based on this school of thought, a proposal to make it unlawful for parents to consume alcohol in the presence of their children is one of the amendments being floated to the Nairobi County Alcoholic Control and Licensing Bill.
“Most children are attracted to alcohol once they see their parents drinking it and in most cases, this propels them to indulge in alcohol. So we want to tackle this problem from that level,” Dr Kidero said.