Young teenagers being lured into drug-running activities
By Mary Dennehy
THE number of young teens being lured into drug-running across local estates is continuing to rise, with this growing gang culture beginning to reflect itself across a number of schools.
The issue of young teens being used as drug-runners has been a growing issue across communities for a number of years.
However, the situation reached a new level last month when a young teen armed himself with a knife while attending classes in a Tallaght school.
The Echo has also been told that the ‘go-to-guys’ in communities for the purchase of drugs are, increasingly becoming, young people as young as 13 or 14 – with drugs, and the culture that goes with it, infiltrating a number of secondary schools.
Tallaght Central Labour Party councillor Mick Duff told The Echo: “It’s not unknown that there are young people as young as 13 and 14 acting as drug-runners across communities.
“Some are carrying illegal substances into school as well – which, not hugely common, is basically mirroring what is happening in the community.
“These kids are being targeted because of their young age profile, which can make them more susceptible… and in my opinion it’s a form of child abuse.
“They are being lured in with the idea of easy money and are not being asked to carry huge amounts either, so the risks may not appear that high.
“However, the risks are huge and young people can progress to holding or stashing large amounts in their homes.
“It’s a vicious circle once a young person’s gets dragged into it, and I would encourage young people to stop and think.
“You wouldn’t be asked to hold drugs or to do anything illegal by a friend – and carrying drugs has the potential to destroy your life.”
He added: “To combat this together we need to alert parents and friends, who can watch out for signs and encourage any young person at risk not to go down this road.
“Young people who feel under pressure should go and link in with a youth group, go and engage in an activity – and those who are being intimidated should speak with one of the local drug projects or YODA (Youth Drug and Alcohol Service).”
Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Sean Crowe has queried if introducing ‘drug-free zones’ around schools and community spaces could help protect schools and deter young people from drug-running.
“What’s happening in schools at the moment is reflecting what is happening in communities,” Deputy Crowe said.
“The kids that are being targeted are vulnerable kids who may not have great social skills or great support at home . . which can make them more malleable.
“The chances of them going to jail is also a lot slimmer.”
He added: “In other jurisdictions they have areas called ‘drug-free zones’ which would, for example, be located around a school and if somebody is caught with drugs on them within that space, they face a heavier sentence.
“Whatever happens, it needs to be discussed and we also need a greater investment in young people . . . and support them in being able to say ‘no’ and feel safe to say so.”
YODA (Youth Drug and Alcohol Service) can be contacted on 4513735 or visit the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce’s website for a list of local projects and support service, www.tallaghtdatf.ie