OPINION

At the age of 12…

” As young as 12, many children are drawn to substance abuse, and the starting age appears to be dropping.» These are the words of people who know and care; staff at Athens’s Strofi Detoxification Center, which helps adolescents addicted to all sorts of drugs. The subsequent explanation that, in 9 out of 10 cases, these youngsters are «from broken homes» merely serves to reinforce already cast-iron stereotypes. Our children, in nine out of 10 cases, get new shoes and clothes every so often. At 5 they have a Walkman, at 6 a Discman, at 11 a mobile phone. They are «full,» stuffed in fact, but they are already lost because they are growing up on their own. We exhaust ourselves doing two or three jobs to make ends meet, to give them what necessity or fashion dictate – often due to our guilty consciences – and when they want a smile or 10 minutes of our time, we put them off and buy off our absence with yet another unnecessary gift. But as time passes, some children, who experience the presence of their parents like fleeting shadows rather than protective shade, get tired of waiting and retreat into themselves, accepting their solitude like orphans. And some others, perhaps the weaker-willed or most spoiled ones, eventually respond to a friend who «shows an interest» in their problems and prescribes something to kill the pain. One or two years later, these children are a statistic…