Teen drinking off the rails

2019-11-05 06:00

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Wynberg police station has been receiving reports and photos of drunk high school learners hanging around in large groups at the Wynberg railway station and surrounding parks.

Capt Silvino Davids says because the train station forms part of a main public transport interchange, many learners from different schools in the surrounding area, and some from as far afield as Cape Town, meet here after school to party.

“It is especially bad on Fridays (when schools dismiss early),” says Davids.

“We suspect they bring alcohol from home or they might get their older friends to buy it for them.”

So far there have been no cases of learners being attacked or sexually assaulted while under the influence, but the police are concerned that it is only a matter of time.

Davids says the learners are making themselves vulnerable to attack.

“They can be robbed or physically assaulted. There are also females involved,” he says.

A couple of months back, the police station called for a meeting with various school principals to discuss an action plan to address the problem. Since then it has been holding blits operations, three to five times a week.

“Police officers in three to four patrol cars meet with representatives from the schools at interchanges from 07:00 onwards. We drive around the area, looking for learners suspected of drinking alcohol,” Davids explains.

He says when they started, the patrol cars would go out Mondays to Fridays, but now they mix it up.

“It’s worked well. As soon as the learners see us coming, they disperse. Reported incidents have gone down.”

Davids says, with learners now writing exams, the occurrence of these ad-hoc parties has further decreased.

“On the days when they aren’t writing, the kids stay home, so there are fewer chances for them to meet. It is quiet at the moment,” he says.

Wynberg police station has arranged for another meeting with school representatives towards the end of the term.

“We need steps to be in place before the start of the new school year,” says Davids.

According to a school representative, who spoke to People’s Post on condition of anonymity, residents who live opposite the park down Burns have complained bitterly about the binge drinking after school.

“Whenever the police is around at the terminus, they simply move 250m down the road and continue their drinking.”

Another school spokesperson says the consumption of alcohol isn’t the only problem.

“(There is also) the smoking of dagga by many learners. It has become so blatant that learners drink (alcohol) and smoke weed on school premises and even while walking home with no regards for the public. When confronted for smoking, learners say ‘the government made it legal’.”

According to the spokesperson, the consuming of alcohol by learners has also become prevalent among younger learners, especially Grade 8 and 9, aged 14 to 15 years.

“The problem also stems from parents who don’t take responsibility for their children. It makes things very difficult for educators,” says the spokesperson.

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