Schoolchildren sniffing whitener ink to get inebriated is passe. The kids of today now sniff Toluene, the chemical involved in a popular adhesive brand, to get a kick. What’s more, their number is increasing by the day! According to reports, school students between 13-18 are addicted to this menace.
The police say cases cannot be registered as there are no provisions to book them. Recently, three teenagers were nabbed following a theft of bikes. The culprits confessed to sniffing the adhesive before committing the crime. The police could only register a case against theft.
According to police sources, school authorities have to ban these items. At least they should be aware of students who keep them in their geometry boxes and bags.
“The habit can be checked if teachers examine students’ bags. Kids get the kick by squirting glue on a paper and inhaling it. A typical ‘kick’ lasts for 40-50 minutes,” sources said. “The government must issue a circular to all schools warning students to get rid of such habits,’’ they said.
According to Joseph Saju, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Narcotics Cell, Kochi, the law is ‘handicapped’ over this hazardous habit, be it the adhesive or whitener ink. “We couldn’t register any case against those who sniff the ink for a kick. Moreover, these substances are no longer considered narcotics. So, the culprits will be freed after they are nabbed,” he said. “They also fall for some sedative drugs easily available in the market,’’ he said.
According to Amos Mammen, Assistant Commissioner of the District Crime Records Bureau, there is no provision to register a case against the obnoxious act.
“We cannot record this as a crime unless these substances are categorised under narcotics,” he said. ‘’In all government schools in the state there is a counsellor to conduct awareness classes. As a preventive measure, we have already given directions to all shops near schools to stop selling these substances to children,” he said.
Dr C J John, psychiatrist, Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi, said at least one such case came for consultation every month. “It’s indeed a threat to society. Early identification of such practices must be done. Parents and school teachers should be vigilant to curb this habit,’’ he said.
‘’Moreover, nobody can impose restrictions on these substances or prohibit them as they are widely used in day-to-day life. It’s tough to wipe out such habits.
What’s even more alarming is that this could be the ‘gateway’ to other narcotic substances.
So, a grassroot awareness campaign should take place in all schools and a peer group identification system practised so that the children themselves could be a corrective force to their friends,’’ he said.