“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when it comes to anti-drug programmes and initiatives designed to reach children on the front end before the negative influences of substance abuse sets in.

That message rang through loud and clear when Minister of Social Development and Sports, Zane DeSilva officially launched Pride Bermuda’s 20th Annual Red Ribbon Week on Monday.

The week-long campaign is designed to “further highlight the detriment that drug abuse and unhealthy behaviour can cause to a society”.

According to US data, the Minister noted that “for every $1 spent on prevention, education and programmes, $18 is saved that would have been spent on dealing with all the ill effects that drug abuse has on both the individual and our society”. He listed “medical expenses due to mental and physical illness, crime and child and family services” as examples of areas where the toll is evident daily.

“Investment in the early development of our children who are affected by the breakdown of the family structure as a result of substance abuse is of urgent social importance to this community,” said Mr DeSilva.

“The BerDIN 2016 Report has revealed that of those students in M2 to S4 that were surveyed, 71 percent reported use of at least one drug in their lifetime. In addition, the fact that 13 percent of the students have been in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol is a clear indication that our children need protection.

“Studies show that evidenced-based programs and services such as those provided by PRIDE Bermuda can have positive effects on the likelihood of a young person’s choice to avoid turning to drugs or anti-social behaviour. That’s why the work that PRIDE Bermuda does year in and year out is so critical for our young people. We have to reach and teach our children at a young age so that they are not pressured or influenced into engaging in drug and alcohol use.

“In Bermuda, we have seen the effects and the end results of what a lifetime of substance abuse can have on individuals in our community,” he said.

“Whether you are a parent, a guardian, a consellor, a teacher or just a concerned member of the public – you need to be part of the solution of making a difference in the lives of our young people by deterring them from involving themselves in drugs and alcohol.

“As parents in particular, we must appreciate the importance of talking with our children about alcohol and drug misuse.

“I encourage us all to make talking about drugs a part of our general health and safety conversations with our children and let’s join with PRIDE Bermuda in growing stronger so that our children can be drug free.”

Mr DeSilva concluded: “The Ministry of Social Development and Sports is part of the solution for a drug-free Bermuda.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Minister Ben Smith, who was recently elected in Constituency 31, said: “Everyone needs to pull together to show that as a community we believe that this initiative is important. If we show it as a community, the youth will believe it, and then our future will be brighter,” he said.

Red Ribbon Week runs from October 16 to 22, with activities planned throughout the week, including a fun fair on the lawn at City Hall on Friday.

  • Photo Courtesy of DCI