Yoshini Perumal
3 minute read
5 Mar 2019
2:39 pm

‘Pill-popping’ high school trend almost kills KZN pupil

Yoshini Perumal

In a bid to fit in, the 13-year-old allegedly took tablets to get high during school hours, and almost paid the price with her life.

Image: Twitter/@cleanchlorines

A 13-year-old Southlands Secondary School pupil wants to use her near-death experience of almost overdosing on prescription drugs at school to advise and lead others away from the growing trend of “pill-popping” at school, she told Rising Sun Chatsworth.

Peer pressure and wanting to fit in seems like the leading cause of teenagers that find themselves in these situations. The Chatsworth teen decided to break the silence on the now popular way of getting a “high” during school hours.

ALSO READ: Weapons, illegal items seized at Cape Town high school

In an exclusive interview, she told journalists that she felt the need of fitting in and didn’t want to seem like the odd one out to her friends.

She said pupils in all grades often took Xanax (Zanex), a highly addictive prescription drug used for the management of anxiety disorder or the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety, and it was mostly taken before pupils smoke marijuana, in an attempt to increase the high they experienced while smoking it.

However, she brought tablets which she found at home to school and took that while her friends took the Zanex.

“I took the tablets during the second break and felt sleepy. After I got home, I began vomiting and my mother took me to the hospital, where the medication was pumped out of me,” she said.

Her mother, who stated she could not sleep at night knowing that her daughter could have died as a result of an overdose, said she feared for the lives of the other children who were “popping the pills at school”.

The school’s SGB chairperson Alan Pillay said he was away for the whole of last week and was unable to comment, as he was not briefed as to what happened at the school.

The spokesperson for the department of education, Kwazi Mthethwa, said: “We are not aware of the situation. Department protocol is that the principal reports the matter at circuit level first, and at this level, we did not find out about the matter. I am sure the issue has been reported to the district circuit manager or line manager and will be dealt with accordingly.

“We condemn the use of any drugs and encourage pupils to lead healthy lifestyles. The principal must call the police and they (the pupils using and distributing the drugs) must be arrested,” he said.

The mother of the grade eight pupil said: “I thought Southlands Secondary School would be a perfect place where my child will achieve academically, and I never realised that it could take a turn for the worst. In order to fit in, she needed to join in to feel welcomed.

“I never realised that this would ever happen in school, where she was supposed to be learning and feel safe. Every day, there are ongoing incidents involving children and we, as parents, have to take the necessary precautions and alert the school. My child could have died.”

The concerned parent added that many incidents are pushed under the carpet at the school and said she felt parents did not want to talk about the issue because of embarrassment to them and their children.

“The only reason I’m speaking out about this is to make parents aware of what is going on. The tablet, Zanex, is sold to children for R5 at the school. I am just one parent but every day, parents are going to school with the same problem. Where are the teachers attention to not notice pupils behaviour?

“After my daughter, another child was also rushed to hospital after he was involved in a similar incident. I urge the relevant authorities to assist with ridding our schools of problems of this nature before a life is lost.”

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