SOS: Save Our Children

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The distribution of drugs involving elementary school students in Makassar, South Sulawesi, set off new alarm bells. This case shows how drugs networks have spread to school students. As well as abusing drugs, these kids now are involved in selling them.

    The police need to identify everybody involved in this worrying case. The aim is not to punish the children involved, but to arrest the dealers. This will be easier because the child who was selling the drugs turned himself into police after a month on the run. He had been supplying drugs to a junior high school student for subsequent resale. It is this junior high school student who was arrested last week.

    On the other hand, law enforcement officers must protect all the students involved with these crystal methamphetamines business. Even if there is proof they abused or distributed drugs, they are in essence: victims. These children are victims of increasingly aggressive drugs syndicates. Law enforcement must not leave them traumatized or bearing the stigma of their actions for the rest of their lives. The opportunity to resolve the case outside the courts must be left wide open in order to safeguard these kids’ futures.

    The Makassar case is further evidence that students are a soft target for drug dealers. A 2017 survey by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) showed that school students make up 24 percent of drug users. The largest group is full-time employees, who make up 59 percent of drug users of all ages.

    The BNN survey showed that the prevalence of drug use nationwide is on the decline, from 4.7 percent in 2012 to 2.9 percent last year. This decease has mostly occurred in provinces long known as drug emergency areas. For example, Jakarta which has the highest prevalence in the nation. After reaching 5.01 percent in 2014, the prevalence of drug use in the Capital City fell to 3.34 percent last year.

    However, the level of drug use in a number of provinces, such as Banten, Bengkulu, Lampung, West Nusa Tenggara and Papua rose. The distribution of drugs is still a concern because dealers are increasingly targeting all age groups and extending their reach to all corners of this nation. BNN estimates the number of drug user has reached 3.4 million people. If 24 percent of school students are using drugs, this means around 800,000 young people are involved in narcotics abuse.

    Officers from the BNN and the police need to work harder to reduce this drug prevalence figure as much as possible. There must be a fitting punishment from law enforcers for drug dealers who have wrecked young peoples’ futures. They must be impoverished using the Anti-money Laundering Law. And while in jail, they must be totally cut off from their networks.

    Moreover, it is not enough to simply arrest local dealers and suppliers: law enforcers must uncover the people smuggling drugs into Indonesia. As well as close monitoring of official ports and airports, there must be increased patrols of borders and smuggling routes.

    Only with a total war from top to bottom will the supply of drugs to vulnerable people such as the students in Makassar be prevented. 

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine