The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has cooperated with the National Authority for Combating Drugs to publish two books to educate parents and children about the effects of using drugs, Neak Yuthea, the authority’s education and prevention coordinator, said on Wednesday.
The books will give parents the ability to help their children avoid drugs and deal with addiction, while children will have a greater awareness of the effect of using drugs from a young age, giving them reason to avoid drugs when they get older, he said.
Experts say drug use, especially methamphetamine pills or “yaba,” is fast increasing among urban youth, in part because many believe the drugs are harmless “medicine.”
The books’ publication was spurred by the increase in youth drug use, especially in the Thai border province of Banteay Meanchey, where the problem has greatly accelerated, Neak Yuthea said.
In surveys, youths in these provinces have said things like, “If you don’t use drugs, you’re not up-to-date,” he said.
“We will educate people that those who use drugs put themselves at risk of losing their life,” he said. In addition to the two books, the drug-education effort includes a video and a special program to educate monks, who can spread the word to villagers from their position of spiritual authority.
The two books are in cartoon form, which the authority hopes will catch the eye of children and help beginning readers understand the message.
Phan Chorika, 23, a student at Build Bright University, said she was disturbed by the evidence she saw all around her of youth drug use. “Children are interested in cartoons, so it’s a good idea to publish a cartoon book on the impact of drug use,” she said.
“Besides, some parents are illiterate, so when they look at the book they can understand from the pictures,” Phan Chorika added.
The books are currently being translated into Khmer by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. They are set to begin distribution in schools across the country in mid-October.