Tight security measures have been implemented by the principal of a school in the parish of St. Catherine to prevent the sale of a very in-demand product called ‘rummy bears’. Rummy bears are another title for gummy shots, a combination of the popular gummy bear candy, infused with alcohol. The homemade drug consumable, to the principal’s dismay, has recently found its way into the hallowed halls of his institution.
The school’s principal stated, “vending is strictly prohibited but some of these students, especially the boys, still manage to bring these bears into the school.” He revealed that the first time he heard about the bears was back in 2018 and had thought that kids were just enjoying the candy, never did he believe that it was a concoction that could get them high. The issue was raised to him by another student who admitted that it was drugs, and so he formulated a plan to apprehend the rummy bear distributor.
The student who reported the matter to the principal was sent to purchase some of the product while he looked on through a window. It was stated that he handled the sale like a “well-seasoned professional” and upon tasting the bears, the schoolmaster said that the rum content was so high that they tasted bitter. Disciplinary measures were taken against the student, but the peddling continued, disclosing the existence of other sellers. The principal voiced, “as soon as mi deal with one, mi find out about a next seller,” and it was not only the males involved in the selling of the product.
The intervention of disciplinary actions has not completely rid the school of the distributors of the drug come 2022, but it has reduced their numbers. Measures put in place for sellers and buyers include immediate suspension from school and second offenders hardly receive a second chance. The school has also introduced drug abuse sessions and staff endeavour to find out the root cause of sales and consumption.
A student who peddled the drug stated that he has been doing so since he was a second former and that the business is very profitable. Details of his preparation process were also shared.
“Five hundred dollar can give yuh a good amount of di bear dem. So mi buy di rum and throw it out inna big basin and throw in di bear and put di dish inna di fridge and make it soak overnight.” He also froze some of the bears to sell because some buyers preferred it that way. Continuing, he shared that the product was so in demand, “mi nuh have hand fi sell when mi reach school.” He used to consume them but realized he would be eating his profit, so he stopped. The cost is usually $50 per pack of four rummy bears.
Although admitting that the activity was illegal, he continued the trade as the bears didn’t cause any significant harm and it might have been wrong, but youths tend to gravitate towards things that are bad for them. “Mi never see it make anyone get drunk, dem will get frass and more time di girls dem say dem feel tipsy like dem wah have sex,” he said.
Mitzie Harris-Dillon, President of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica was surprised by the development and stated that parental involvement is in urgent need. The socio-economic backgrounds and environment of the students were called into question. Discipline is but a drop in the bucket of things that affect the mannerism of children. “Some of it is from the parents, some of it is from the communities,” Dillon relayed when talking about the factors that could affect student behaviour. She declared that a call for social intervention is required to tackle the use of drugs in schools.
“One of the things that we have been crying out for is that we need a partnership with the administrators to help us to get the PTA within the respective schools active,” said Dillon. Stating that this is a mission worth the effort, she suggested speaking with psychologists and creating platforms to “engage with the parents about these happenings,” which includes molly and other drugs.