It goes without saying we all wish to protect the young and vulnerable. Intuitively, current drug laws make sense. Pushing drugs to the fringes of decent society and maintaining a ban through criminalisation has plausibility. But what if we’re causing more harm than good?
On the UN’s ‘Universal Children’s Day’, a new report from the ‘Count the Costs of the War on Drugs’ initiative will be launched to detail just how international laws are failing in their duty to minimise the potential harms of drugs. ‘The War on Drugs: Harming not protecting young people' outlines just what’s going on and how drugs specifically impact families as they,
- Threaten children's health by increasing drug dangers
- Lead to the trafficking and enslavement of children
- Ruin young people's lives with criminal records
- Make youngsters who take drugs scared to seek help
With children in the beguiling spotlight of drug prohibition, we need blink away the confusion and look again. Drug policy requires contemplation. We can become anchored to a belief system that drugs are not our problem – they’re someone else’s. Perhaps this penumbra of a policy can be best described by the Anyone’s Child campaign. This collection of brave family members that have lost loved ones now campaign for an effective change in law with health and evidence led alternatives. This is not a theoretical debate; this is all too real for those that have been unfathomably scarred by the war on drugs.
A Count the Costs spokesperson said, "The global drug war has been fought for decades on the basis that it protects young people. This new report demonstrates that, in fact, it harms and kills them. Criminalisation doesn't stop young people taking drugs, but it does dramatically increase the risks for those who do. It produces many other disastrous and entirely avoidable harms for those that don't use drugs too”, such as:
- Destroying children's families by locking up parents
- Putting children in the line of fire by creating violent drug gangs
- Preventing effective drug education, putting all children at risk
With evidence collected from Mexico to the UK, and Afghanistan to the US, this new insight into how children and families are affected makes for chilling reading. The global drug prohibition approach has been tried for more than half a century - and the evidence is clear: any marginal benefits are dramatically outweighed by the very real and tangible costs to life. In a conceptual debate, this stark shot of reality should act as a strong wakeup call that immunity to societal drug supply and consumption simply doesn’t exist. This is one of those rare issues where we truly are all in it together.
The UN acknowledges, there are many “unintended consequences” to our global drug control policies. The insidious tendrils of the drug war enwrap many areas of health and social policy, such as drug eradication programs and how they’ve caused immeasurable environmental damage on bio-diverse habitats. The short film, Shovelling Water highlights just how much of an impact these zealous practices are having in already depleted regions.
The UN is set to host an historic meeting on drugs in April 2016; the slogan ‘A better tomorrow for today's youth' lays out the remit quite clearly. We can hope that we do not become indoctrinated that prohibition and criminalisation are the only ‘control’ models of drugs that provide safety for our emerging generations.
As this newest Count the Costs report makes clear, however well-meant, the war on drugs is, in reality, a war on people – and young people bear the full weight of this particular battle that’s lasted for more than half a century. The timing has never been more right; we have to turn the tide on the tsunami of harm that our punitive drug laws have caused. No one wishes to be the next person to get the call that your family has become the latest casualty to one of the world’s slowest burning wars.
Read the full report: ‘The War on Drugs: Harming, not protecting young people’