The Sunday Mail
On Friday, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Youth Day, which was held under the theme “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for all Ages”.
The theme speaks to the need for young people to work together and learn from older generations how to navigate the different pathways of life.
While the youth are innovative and energetic, they need direction and wisdom.
International Youth Day is a product of a United Nations General Assembly resolution and is commemorated annually on August 12.
On the day, young people around the world organise activities to raise awareness about the challenges they face.
Youths are custodians of the future and must, therefore, proffer solutions for global challenges.
In Zimbabwe, drug abuse among young people is one such challenge.
A 2020 World Health Organisation (WHO) report showed that deaths from drug abuse in Zimbabwe reached 213 or 0,20 percent of the total deaths that year.
Stories of youths abusing drugs, developing mental health challenges and committing heinous crimes like murder and domestic violence are now pervasive.
Recently, the news cycle was awash with stories of sex orgies at so-called Vuzu parties.
All this points to a generation crying out for help.
According to Zimbabwe Youth in SDGs (sustainable development goals) public relations officer Mr Tauya Mujuru, drug abuse contributes immensely to social problems affecting Zimbabwe and requires an intergenerational approach.
The youth-led organisation, which focuses on promoting youth engagement and action in the implementation of the 17 SDGs, emphasises the need for solidarity across generations to assist the youth in positively influencing their communities.
“Family time is important because families mould character,” he said.
“So we want to urge our parents, our religious leaders, our traditional leaders to ensure that we invest as much as we can in the unity and empowerment of a functional family setup, where our young people can sit down and listen to the elderly and take advice into action.”
In addition, the role of law enforcement in helping curb this problem cannot be overemphasised.
Law enforcement agents must ensure drug peddlers are removed from our streets.
This, therefore, calls for ethical conduct among law enforcement agents.
Sadly, in some cases, we hear reports of some unscrupulous officers who are paid by drug lords to look the other way.
Another key stakeholder in the fight against drugs are our artistes, especially influential Zimdancehall musicians.
As role models, they have massive influence over young people through their music.
There is also need to establish anti-drug abuse clubs in schools and universities.
Such clubs can be conduits for communicating the harm that comes with substance abuse.
“We also need to empower our social workers under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to ensure that they follow up on families who have drug abusers to counsel and talk to the youngsters to see their progress and at times bring even the police to also engage the young people affected,” added Majuru.