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Inhalant abuse rife among teens

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Inhalant abuse rife among teens | Thaiger

PHUKET: Phuket’s Juvenile and Child Protection Office has released statistics showing that 270 youths under the age of 18 were charged with criminal offenses during the first six months of 2006. The office noted that the figure indicates an increase in youth crime, with a total of 488 such crimes reported in 2005.

Of the 270 cases, 243 involved boys, compared to just 27 lodged against girls. Almost half of the total, 133 cases, were drug-related. Ninety-four of these involved the use of inhalants, such as paint thinner and rubber cement.

Seventy-five cases of theft were also reported, as well as 31 traffic violations, most for motorcycle racing. Twenty-four youths were charged with violent crimes, such as fighting, while three were charged with disturbing the peace. Other charges included two cases of sex-related crimes, such as child prostitution, and two cases of illegal possession of a weapon.

Phuket Juvenile and Child Protection Office Director Sangprateeb Komonlabutra told the Gazette that use of inhalants by youths is a particularly difficult problem to solve, given that thinner is readily available, inexpensive, and easy to conceal.

His agency’s “Child Protection Office Meets the People”, a public awareness and education campaign launched last December, had done little to solve the problem, he admitted.

Thinner use is most common among youths from broken homes and those whose parents don’t have the time to take care of them, he said. Such neglect led to youths falling sway to peer pressure.

Reports of youths huffing glue in dormitories and even in public places had become an almost nightly occurrence, he added. Of particular concern is the habit, popular among some youths, of huffing thinner before taking to the roads on motorbikes. “This is very dangerous,” he said.

Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura urged owners and staff in retail outlets where inhalants are sold to monitor the behavior of any youths thought to be purchasing inhalants for personal consumption, and to report any suspected cases to the police.

 

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