Editorial comment | When there’s more to glue

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The issue of sniffing glue has worsened among underaged people with children as young as eight openly inhaling the harmful substance in public. Picture: phillytrib

Renowned psychotherapist Selina Kuruleca reckons Fiji seriously needs to implement and action a Volatile Substance Act if we are to effectively address the glue-sniffing issue.

Ms Kuruleca said legislation, implementation and enforcement was the only way to combat the rising number of youths engaged in “sniffing” the industrial adhesive.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Acting Police Commissioner Juki Fong Chew who believes there has to be immediate regulation on the sale of glue.

It’s a line of thought that Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Minister Lynda Tabuya appears to be endorsing when she issued a warning to storeowners that once the sale of industrial glue is regulated, it will become a crime for anyone to sell the adhesive.

Government, she said, was aware of the glue sniffing issue and her ministry along with the Trade, Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry have presented their plans to Cabinet for a paper to regulate sale of the glue.

Once it was regulated, she said, only licensed companies would be allowed to sell the adhesive.

The glue sniffing issue, she said, warranted immediate action because it was luring children into prostitution and making them vulnerable to child abuse.

It is a statement Survival Advocacy Network project coordinator Sesinieli Naitala has endorsed, suggesting that girls as young as 14 to 15 were engaged in child prostitution in red light areas around Suva, and were sniffing glue.

A former sex worker, she said, they usually got high by sniffing glue and did “it” to financially support their families.

Young sex workers, she claimed, would be seen sniffing glue while out on the streets looking for clients.

She claimed they resort to glue sniffing to get high because it’s cheap to buy when compared with other drugs like marijuana and white drugs.

Youths we spoke to for our reports on pages 4 and 5 today have raised reasons they resorted to glue sniffing, and the impact it has had on their lives.

They talk about using it as a coping mechanism for challenges they face in their lives. They talk about addiction and the feeling they get when they sniff glue.

They talk about neglect, about lack of family time and engagement. They talk about being a burden on their family. They talk about unemployment, their circumstances in life, and poverty.

They talk about a lack of parental guidance. A parent talks about the challenges she had to go through when she discovered her son with cans of glue.

It will take a community effort to address such issues. The challenge is going to be on how we work together to address challenges we have before us.

There is an expectation that we will nurture our young to grow up to be responsible adults.

That means laying the foundation for that to happen. It means being responsible and accountable. It means leading by example.

It means improving communication and working together. It means being there for one another and making good, positive decisions.

It means empowering stakeholders to make tough calls. In the face of what appears to be overwhelming odds, at least there are beacons of hope in light of discussions about regulation, and in how some families are fighting the issue head-on.

But it needs a concerted effort from us all, and that includes the powers that be, to make tough decisions.

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