25 Jul 2017

Fiji study finds high drugs and alcohol use among young teenagers

3:15 pm on 25 July 2017

A school health survey in Fiji has revealed that almost half of children under the age of 14 have consumed alcohol and drugs and had sex.

The figures were revealed at the launch of a university wellness programme.

Children in Fiji

Children in Fiji Photo: AFP

49 percent of students who participated in the Global School Health Survey said they had consumed alcohol before 14.

57 percent of students admitted to using drugs before they were 14, 48 percent had already had sex and 12 percent smoked.

28 percent of students were also found to be overweight.

The National Adviser on wellness and non-communicable disease, Isimeli Tukana, said the figures were alarming and could deepen the current NCD crisis.

"The issue with the NCDs is the lifestyle behaviour change and now we are finding that the behaviour in our children is quite a challenge now, showing how serious through this study," Dr Tukana said.

"More importantly is what we are going to do with these figures and how we are going to approach this kind of extent of the problem."

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Photo: 123rf

Dr Tukana said the figures were highlighted at the university because it is tertiary students who can become role models and change the behaviour of their younger siblings and family members.

He said the students were delibrately targetted.

"You are very critical to our reducing the NCD crisis because you are the older siblings. The children will look up to you. You need to be role models so they can change their behaviour and you will be leading the Pacific tomorrow."

Dr Tukana said there was a global trend towards more at risk behaviour at a younger age.

He said developing nations like Fiji were no different and technological advances brought on societal challenges.

"It comes with these changes and challenges our Pacific children in terms of their lifestyle."