The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame has reminded parents to assume their roles and talk to the youth about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
Mrs. Kagame made the remarks yesterday while opening a high level meeting on alcohol and drug abuse among youth in the country.
The meeting was convened to highlight the increasing drugs and alcohol abuse among the youth in the country and chart ways to address the problem.
“As parents and guardians, we need to nurture the culture of engaging our children and to firmly show them the bad effects of abusing drugs and alcohol,” said the first lady in her address.
“We all know that it is something we have talked about in the past, but we found it imperative to remind ourselves, especially since periods like the festive season is a time for parents to worry more”.
The First Lady noted that it had been noticed that many youth indulge in alcohol and drugs without thinking about side effects.
“For parents and guardians who are here, therefore, it is paramount that we put much attention on our job of bringing up and protecting those under our guardianship”.
She requested owners of hospitality facilities like hotels, night clubs and bars, to play their role in curbing the vice.
“We are not here to stop you from making profits, but you should also consider the future of these young people,” she emphasised.
“This is the best time for us to sit and take measures before it is too late and avoid a scenario where we could even fail to get successors in our development journey”.
She also requested lawmakers to come out with clear legislative guidelines on alcohol and drug abuse.
At the meeting, Joseph Uwagaga, 24, gave a testimony of his alcohol and drug abuse since the age of 11.
“Alcohol and drug abuse almost destroyed my life and future. My advice to the youths who are on drugs is that they should stop it with immediate effect, and those who are not yet there, you should not try it,” he counseled.
According to police statistics, alcohol and drug abuse tops the crime list and is a big threat to national security and development.
While illicit brew is produced in the country, most drugs consumed like cannabis, brown sugar, heroin and others, are smuggled from neighbouring countries.
By October 2011, 2,090 kilogrammes of cannabis and 7,056 litres of illicit brew had been seized and destroyed. According to police statistics, most people involved in the trade are between the ages of 18 and 35.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Vianney Nshimiyimana, says the problem is more complex than available numbers point out, because some of the cases are not recorded, especially those involving underage children.
In his remarks, the Minister for Youth, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, urged all parties to work together to bring an end to the problem.
“This is a big challenge that cannot be left to one particular group to handle,” said the minister.
He also called for mechanisms to provide skills to the youth which would in turn help them create jobs for themselves, instead of indulging in alcohol and drug abuse.