By Kurniawati Kamaruddin and Mohd Razman Abdullah
KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (Bernama) – A front-page picture in a newspaper showing two children lying unconscious, after bouts of glue-sniffing, by a roadside in Miri, raises the question of how serious is the menace among their peers.
What do the children in the picture, one nine years old and the other only six, know about the effects and dangers of sniffing the glue, an item which can be easily bought and is cheap.
Addiction at such a young age can lead them to progress to using stronger drugs, like heroin, cocaine as well as synthetic drugs when they get older.
Unfortunately, legal action cannot be taken against juveniles for glue-sniffing, unlike those caught for drug addiction, pushing or trafficking.
The reason being that glue is not a controlled item and used in our daily life, unless it is used for wrongful purpose like for sniffing, said Kuala Lumpur Narcotics Crime Investigation Chief ACP Kang Chez Chiang.
He said police could only bring those caught for glue-sniffing to the stations and then would contact their parents, who would take them home.
“We can only advise the parents to monitor their children’s activities to prevent them from getting involved in unhealthy activities although we know that glue-sniffing can damage their brain and body,” he added.
Vice President and Medical Advisor of the Welfare Association of Former Inmates of Rehabilitation Institutions, Malaysia (Prokim) Dr Majezan Yaacob said influence from the peers was the main reason for glue-sniffing among children besides other factors, like large family where they had to spend most of their time outside, since the house was small, and this led them to mix with bad hats.
"To prevent glue-sniffing among children, the government has to provide sufficient recreational facilities for them to be with their peers, so that when night comes, they will be tired and no longer want to loiter with their friends.
“Parents too, should monitor their children’s activities,” she told Bernama today.
The media, she said, also played an important role and they could help by not sensationalising cases on glue-sniffing as otherwise, it could attract more children to try it.
Dr Majezan said the main effect of glue-sniffing was brain damage, which could be fatal to the addicts, as well as memory loss, psychosis and paralysis.
“This is because glue contains a substance like toluena or trichloroethylene, a type of toxin which affects the brain function as well as the heart,” she added.
According to a research carried out by Dr Majezan, most of those drawn to glue-sniffing were children aged 11 and 12 who had yet to even try cigarette smoking.
“But due to their addiction to glue-sniffing, they tend to lose interest in their studies and then skip classes before getting involved in other unhealthy activities, like stealing,” she said.