Children living in the streets is a common sight in many cities around the Philippines. Many of them become victims of drug abuse. (ucanews.com photo by Eloisa Lopez)
Young people are dropping dead by consuming chemicals to forget their problems or just to get an exciting high and overcome inhibition.
A few weeks ago, at an open-air dance concert in Manila, five people collapsed and died from presumed drug overdoses.
These young people were seemingly victims of what can be dubbed as a drug culture. What a tragic loss of young lives and pain and suffering for their family and friends. They could be your children or grandchildren, nephews or nieces.
We cannot stand idly by wringing our hands helplessly. We must act and campaign for a drug-free society, not a society that tolerates, ignores, or as in some Northern Hemisphere countries, legalizes dangerous drugs.
Murdering drug pushers or denouncing them without evidence or a trial or accusing them before TV cameras is wrong. It is a violation of their rights. In such a system anyone can accuse you or me, and we could be shot without due process.
Any person accused is entitled by law to due process and a fair trial. Vigilante killing of suspects without a trial is not a solution. It is murder. More pushers, drug lords and dealers will take their place. Who would they be? If they are politicians with hit squads who kill suspects they are no saints and can easily take over the drug business and remain in power forever.
It is only by having a high value of our lives and health of our children and all our citizens and teaching our children by good example to be drug and alcohol-free and eat healthy food will they have a healthy, productive meaningful life. Drug users do not have these values and are victims. They need recovery, therapy, and rehabilitation.
The youth must be taught to be smart, knowledgeable and committed to a drug-free life. When we end the demand, then we end the supply. This can be done by the inspiring words and deeds of responsible youth, parents, teachers and national leaders. They must give moral leadership and good examples of a disciplined drug, alcohol, and vice-free life.
Public campaigning and government legislative action and public education have driven back the smoking scourge and now it's hip to be tobacco-free. That is an example of success and a non-violent solution. Knowledge is power and we have to empower others and ourselves with the truth to oppose drug use and make it unacceptable.
The sex trade and human trafficking are drug driven. The victims are lured, made dependent or forcibly addicted. Before they are abducted and trafficked, they are frequently tranquilized with drugs to make them docile and submissive. Then they are sold into sex slavery to customers who are high on drugs.
Campaigners in Northern Hemisphere countries are protecting youth and children from the dangers of drugs by working to stop the legalization of some dangerous drugs, especially cannabis. Their campaign is knowledge-based and backed by cutting edge scientific research and important findings. These are the great unsung, but often criticized, heroes of our time.
It is our duty to protect our children by preventing harm and hurt. This is by making drug use the social menace and pariah in society and teaching our children to stand against it.
Irish Father Shay Cullen SSC established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse.