Children as young as ten are dealing drugs in Dublin 15 and kids as young as eight are involved in distribution, a new study has found.
A trend report for 2018 compiled by the Blanchardstown Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force shows a sharp increase in the number of minors peddling narcotics.
Amongst under-18s, the average age of a drug ‘runner’ was 13, while the youngest reported was eight. Shockingly, the average age of a drug dealer was 14 and the youngest reported was a boy of 10.
According to the research, conducted by Janet Robinson and Jim Doherty, young people see drug dealing as a way to make “easy money” and boost their social status.
They noted: “An explanation for the youngest ages was reported to be that older family members were drug dealers.”
The 118-page document revealed that underage runners and dealers were “predominantly male” though females aged 12 and over were also engaged in the trade.
The Drug and Alcohol Trends Monitoring System 2018 report said the use of minors for drug distribution was a method used by older, larger-scale dealers, as there are less criminal consequences due to their age.
It noted that the presence of children in the trade could be related to drug debt intimidation “whereby young people are forced to hold and sell drugs to pay off debts”.
It said drug availability appeared to have increased across the Dublin 15 region, a mixed demographic area, including affluent areas such as Castleknock and more disadvantaged areas such as Mulhuddart and Corduff.
The report said availability was greater due to an increase in dealers, dealers making home deliveries, people buying illegal drugs online and from some GPs.
The study found there had been a rise in reports of secondary school students showing signs of drug use before, during or after school – but this was attributed to improved research methods.
It found drug-related intimidation, drug use and shoplifting were the most frequent drug-related crimes.
Other offences including burglary, visible drug dealing, domestic violence, firearms offences and sex work were also reported.