|Pranav, 14, a UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist who attends the United Nations International School in New York, has been conducting interviews about teenage drug use with his peers.|
By Blue Chevigny
NEW YORK, USA, 20 April 2007 – Pranav, 14, is concerned about the risk of drug use among his peers and wants to better understand the issue.
For the past couple of months, the eighth-grader has been using recording equipment to conduct interviews about teenage drug use for the Digital Diaries project of UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s global children’s forum. He has used his school, the United Nations International School (UNIS) in New York City, as a backdrop, talking to other students as well as guidance counsellors and teachers.
Most of the young people Pranav has talked to are his age and have only had indirect contact with drug users.
“I have this friend,” said a student named Lisa. “She uses drugs with her older sister. She thinks she’s really cool. I tell her not to do it, but she just won’t listen.”
Role of family relationships
Mike, another student, told Pranav about a youth who recently went on a binge with marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes. “After doing all this, he still hasn’t regained his lung capacity,” said Mike. “He still can’t fully concentrate on things in school or in sports or in music.”
Despite such anecdotes, Pranav’s interviews show that the drug problem among his peer group seems to be relatively under control.
The seventh- and eighth-grade guidance counsellor at UNIS, Demi Lucas, advises young people not to start experimenting at all. “I think the children who are likely not to start are the children who are involved in outside activities and have a lot of their time used,” she told Pranav.
Ms. Lucas also encourages students to keep up communication with their families. “A good relationship, they always show, means those students don’t turn to drugs,” she said.
Making resources available
Health teacher Sue Steinberg told Pranav that education is the key to drug-use prevention among teenagers. She feels that students often help other students stay off drugs if they have the right information.
“Students often recognize a problem long before any of the adults do. Having resources available to them, other adults that they can go to for help,” is also important, she noted.
Pranav’s Digital Diary makes it clear that he and his immediate circle of friends are not too worried about their own risk of drug and alcohol abuse. Still, having knowledge at their fingertips can only help them navigate these issues with other teenagers who may be more vulnerable.
11 April 2007:
UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth Digital Diarist Pranav, 14, reports from New York about drug use among teenagers.