“We have adults in this community selling medicine to children as young as those in Grade 2.” This unmistakable claim was made by Lucinda Evans, community activist and founder of the non-government organisation (NGO), Philisa Abafazi Bethu, on Saturday 31 August at community meeting to address substance abuse by the youth in Lavender Hill (Substance abuse among children a concern, People’s Post, 27 July), and in the city at large.The meeting was hosted at Lavender Hill High School and was attended by concerned residents, parents, educators, Hope House Counselling Centre, Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre and Steenberg police station commander, Col Jan Alexander.Evans opened the meeting, immediately getting to the crux of the issue of substance abuse. She revealed that the problem which is widely experienced by parents in many Cape Flats homes is trickling down to the young people too. While some have expressed their concern over the lean cough mixture concoction consumed by children in many Cape Town communities recently, Evans indicates that the trend is not as new as many think. “We have a very serious problem in our community. It is not from two weeks ago, it has been coming for a very long time,” she said, adding that parents are responsible for denying or trying to suppress the problems their children may have. “One of the parents from a primary school gave me a call two days ago and told me that she is too ashamed to come.”Ashley Pots, a speaker at the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre addressed the residents at the meeting. “Substances are a challenge in our communities and very often we don’t know what the next step is; how to confront the situation,” he said, adding that his colleague, Mogamat Sedick would detail the signs of an addict so that parents are better equipped to recognise the need for intervention.Sedick told parents to look out for obsessive and compulsive behaviours, lying, behaviour changes and appearance changes.A teacher at the meeting informed those in attendance that the problem even infiltrates the classrooms, with learners ensuring that those who use drugs don’t get caught. “Girls will give the boys their hand lotion after break so that they can hide the smell,” she said.The gathering was the beginning of a campaign that Philisa Abafazi Bethu will be running to meet with parents of children who bear the signs of substance abuse problems. Following the initial meeting, the children can be referred to the various participating rehabilitation structures.Evans added that the primary issue to be addressed is finding and taking action against the adults who are selling medicines and drugs to children who are then tasked to supply them to their young friends.“We are sitting with the issue of people making money off our children’s health,” she said. V For help with a child who is abusing a substance or for more information, contact Philisa Abafazi Bethu on 081 746 9889; Hope House Counselling Centre on 021 715 0424; or Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre on 021 447 8026.