Child and Substance Abuse

It is common and well researched that there is a strong link between adult substance abuse and child abuse and neglect worldwide. This unfortunate situation is more pronounced and prevalent in developing and poor countries such as South Africa.

An incident involving a mother making a child smoke what is allegedly dagga in 2017 has been recorded and been criticised across the United States and the world on social media. The video of the incident is available on

This incident however took place in the United States of America around December 2017 and the mother in the video was consequently charged with child abuse and the possession of marijuana.

It is unfortunate that any child should be exposed to smoking, drugs and alcohol as this can lead to health risks and influencing a child’s behaviour later in life.

In most cases there is a causal link between substance abuse and child abuse especially in underdeveloped, poor countries and communities. It is a well-known fact that there is a relationship between an individual’s economic, social and educational background that predisposes one to alcohol, drugs, crime, abuse and other social challenges.

Incidents where children are forced to drink or consume substances do occur in South Africa however as the case with other forms of abuse are hardly ever noticed or even get reported to authorities or social workers.

In poor communities it is not a rare phenomenon to see young children playing around unsafe places and imitating drunken adults or even drinking alcohol that might be left in bottles and improperly discarded bottles.

How can one describe abuse and in this particular case, child abuse? Abuse can be described as the physical, psychological, economic threat and harm to an individual’s and in this case a minor’s health, well-being and development. The physical well-being of the child was put at risk in the above mentioned incident.

Alcohol abuse is an epidemic disease in South Africa, with the country being the world’s number one when it comes to alcohol consumption and abuse. Not only is South Africa the world’s highest consumer of alcohol, there are other consequences such as drunk driving and accidents related to driving under the influence and foetal alcohol syndrome of which South Africa has a high rate of these incidents.

In South Africa 111.1 out of every 1000 children have foetal alcohol syndrome and more than 60% of teenagers have been drunk. These and more statistics are a concern not only for SANCA but for other stakeholders and should be a concern for the entire South African citizen.

Using illegal substances and alcohol has severe negative health and development consequences for children and more so if children are exposed to abuse and other behaviours that might and can affect a child’s psychological health.

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Copyright 2018 Tebogo ISSUE Mokhele

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