Pretoria - Social Development Deputy Minister Bathabile Dlamini has expressed concern on the increasing number of young children getting involved in drug abuse.
Dlamini said this, regardless of their background, is threatening their future.
Speaking at the Gala Dinner for the 32nd Biennial General Meeting, Dlamini said places such as schools that are supposed to nurture children and the youth to become responsible adults and citizens are now targeted by drug lords to lead the youngsters astray.
"As you know, we live in a society beset by the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse, which affects all of us directly or indirectly," she said.
"All of us here, government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have a mammoth task to fight this scourge and its manifestations in society," she said.
Dlamini expressed concern about the age of drug experimentation that is steadily going down and currently standing at seven years.
"We must concede that the scope of our problem stretches way beyond drug abuse, we also have a problem of alcohol abuse in the country," she said.
In a bid to discourage young people from taking drugs, the department launched the Ke Moja - I'm Fine Without Drugs Campaign.
Dlamini said there is a need to deal with the myth that exists among some people who believe that it is the sole responsibility of government to act on many areas of societal development.
"We all need to take charge and responsibility," she said.
"Our efforts towards a drug free society must holistically reduce the supply and demand for drugs and the harm that this substance is causing to its victims and the society at large," Dlamini said.
"Sadly, violent crimes including murder and domestic violence occur mostly with the perpetrator being under the influence of substance," she said.
It is estimated that up to 12 million family members of drug users face emotional and financial strain.