Industry Desk: A huge number of street children in the capital are alarmingly getting addicted through glue-sniffing that is popularly called ‘Dandy’ which dissolves the membrane of brain cells and causes hallucinations.
“Dandy makes me sleep easier and forget the harshness of my live,” said Rajon, a 12-year kid with a blank face who collects garbage for his living.
Rajon, an orphan who sleeps at the footpath of Farmgate area in the capital, said he chose Dandy as a drug as it is cheap and it is available.
“What I earned by collecting garbage, I spent some for my food and with the rest I buy Dandy … I do love to sleep all day,” he said in a taunting smile on his face.
Dandy, used by shoe repairers, is adhesive glue which contains toluene, a sweet smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon.
Currently, breathing in fumes from glue-soaked rags and glue-filled plastic bags is a normal activity for a large number of Dhaka’s slum kids or street children like Rajon.
The difference between Dandy and other drugs is that Dandy is not expensive and is not subject to fluctuations in supply in the same way as other drugs. It is both legal and cheap – making it a very convenient substance to abuse.
The street children carry dendrites in a plastic bag and put their mouths in the plastic bag to inhale. Sometimes they gather in groups to take turns to inhale in public places especially at the bus stations, train stations, launch terminals, footpaths, and footbridges.
The addicted children can inhale Dandy openly because the community and most of the police are not aware that it could be used as a drug or such kind of inhalation may develop addiction among human body.
A World Bank study indicated that a stunning number of Dhaka’s 249,000 street children are addicted to drugs, most to glue-sniffing.
Syeda Ananya Rahman, program manager of the anti-drug organization Work for Better Bangladesh, said there is no-one watching over the street children and taking care of them, so it is easy for them to become addicted to drugs.
Drug abuse creates physical and socio-behavioral problem of children and affects the economic and social aspects of society in the country as a whole, she said.
As per their study, there are currently more than one million street children in the country, half of them are under the age of 10 while about 95 percent use different drugs.
“We all need to be aware of this because the children are our future generation … we should use the law strictly in this regard,” Rahman said.
However, she said legislation alone cannot prevent the street children from using drugs, it requires awareness and publicity.
“There is still time to get them back on track . . . this is the right time to launch an anti-drug campaign for them,” she said.
The anti-drug activists called upon the government and the rich people of the society to rehabilitate these street children.
A report made by ‘I care Sustainably’, an international non-profit organization focused on improving the livelihood of marginalized communities, said the difference of Bangladesh from other developing nations is that glue-sniffing has only recently been introduced here.
In other countries, it started 40 years ago, it said, adding that, therefore, it is very important at this stage to research and find out the causes and effects of “Dandy” substance abuse among street kids to prevent further damage in Bangladesh
The organizations suggested that the government and the responsible authorities should take the initiative as soon as possible to save the Dhaka’s street children from drug addiction.
Addicted children, who live in urban areas as street children, should receive rehabilitation assistance from NGOs involved in their care as it is very important to provide shelter for better and safer living conditions.
It suggested establishing more safe homes for street children to provide them proper education and training in technical skills such as electrical, mechanical, computer, handicraft and farming in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) projects, the number of street children stood at 1.5 million in 2015 and it will reach 1.56 million in 2024.
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