ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE YOUTH
source: UN, The World Youth Report 2003,
In most societies and cultures there are young people living in difficult circumstances who have been identified as especially vulnerable…
These young people often live on the street and outside the reach of mainstream services…
- included in this category are working children, youth no longer attending school, refugees, disabled youth, incarcerated and institutionalised youth, children of dysfunctional families, and young people who have been sexually abused;
- substance use is one of many issues faced by these young people, who use drugs as a way of coping with negative experiences including the residual effects of past circumstances and the present challenges associated with life on the street;
- in some remote indigenous communities, gasoline sniffing, primarily among young people, is said to have contributed to a systematic breakdown of community and family relationships—to the point of almost total disintegration in some cases.
Injecting drug use is much more common among street and incarcerated youth than among school-based youth (typically in the 1 to 3% range), as indicated by the following study results:
- a 2002 study of drug abuse among working children (aged 7-17) commissioned by the ILO in a region of the Philippines found that only 8% of the children did not use drugs (nearly 1 in 4 use daily), 35% started using at 13 or younger, the first drug used was shabu (a methamphetamine);
- Africa has huge youth populations and –for several reasons - there is a growth in the numbers of ‘street children’. There are 12,000 street children in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, alone. Amongst street children, qaat (a leaf that it chewed for stimulant effect), cannabis and solvent abuse is the norm. Nairobi may have as many as 10,000 street children, and glue sniffing is at the core of ‘street culture’ there. It has been estimated that 65% of the children living in one area of Mathare – a large squatter shanty in the centre of Nairobi – regularly inhale solvents. The some 2,000 such children in Dakar inhale solvents (locally called guinze), sometimes pions (psychotropic medicines) or cannabis.
- In seven major Canadian cities 21% of indigenous street youth had injected drugs (2000);
- In the United States 45% of street youth had injected at least once in their past (1998);
- In Canada 36% of street youth had injected at least once in their past (1998);
- In Australia 17% in the previous month (1998).