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Teenagers abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Some of the most commonly used drugs include alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, stimulants (cocaine, crack, and speed), LSD, PCP, prescription medications, opiates, heroin, steroids, tobacco, and club drugs, like Ecstasy (MDMA).


Drugs and Youth Violence
By Balwant Sanghera, BC,Canada

Recent rash of shootings in the Lower Mainland of B.C. has again brought the problem of dugs and youth violence to the forefront. During the past few years, a large number of people have lost their lives in this process. Not only that, a number of innocent bystanders have also become the victims of this insanity. The South Asian community alone has lost close to 110 young men, mostly in their twenties, to drugs and violence.

Various police forces have been doing a commendable job in tackling this issue. As a result of some public pressure, there seems to be a more co-ordinated effort between them now than before. However, the law enforcement agencies can do only so much. In order to get a handle on this unfortunate development, there is a strong need for a concerted effort and appropriate resources.

Drugs and violence transcend all ethnic, cultural, religious and geographical boundaries. Individuals and groups that engage in anti social and violent activities seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. According to recent media reports, there are close to 129 such groups operating in British Columbia. This should be a matter of great concern to every citizen.

Individuals who have a tendency to engage in criminal activity or those who perpetrate violence are not born as such. Usually, they are the product of our society. Some are forced by circumstances whereas others enter this shady world on their own accord. To some, the temptation may be easy/fast money whereas others may be looking for power and prestige. For some, it may be a sense of security by belonging to a group regardless of what that group does or stands for.

A recently conducted survey for Department of Public Safety revealed that a vast majority of Canadians believe that crime is a very serious issue in Canada. They want improvements in the federal government’s current level of effort to combat it.

Combating youth violence and criminal activity is not an easy task. Dr. Mark Totten, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, has worked extensively with youth involved in crime. He has suggested a number of initiatives that have proven successful in preventing youth from involvement in crime. These include the following:

  • Community Mobilization: Mobilizing community leaders and residents to plan, strengthen, or create new opportunities or linkages to existing organizations for youth –at-risk.
  • Social Intervention: Troubled youth are more likely to respond to programs taken directly to them as opposed to those that they have to seek out themselves.
  • Provision of academic, economic, and social opportunities: Educational and vocational programming, along with other incentives, for high –risk youth are proven to result in lowering their tendency to engage in criminal behavior.
  • Accountability: Activities that hold at-risk youth accountable, including formal and informal social control procedures of the justice systems
  • Facilitating organizational change and development: This would be helpful to community agencies better address youth problems through a team problem –solving approach.
  • Getting the youth involved in program planning and early intervention should also go a long way in helping our young people make healthy choices.

Balwant Sanghera
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of British Columbia). He can be reached at:



Balwant Sanghera

Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.