Croydon children as young as nine 'know street value of cocaine'
CROYDON schoolchildren as young as nine know the street value of drugs including cocaine and cannabis.
This is the shock claim of anti-gang campaigner Eliza Rebeiro, who says some children not even out of primary school have a clear grasp of the price of hard drugs.
Ms Rebeiro tours schools across the borough in a bid to steer children away from gang culture.
But she has been left shocked by the knowledge of crime displayed by nine to 11-year-olds.
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Ms Rebeiro, founder of the Lives not Knives campaign group, told the Advertiser: "We were talking at a school the other day and some of these kids know how much you can sell cocaine for – and these are nine-year-olds.
"They said gang members sell weed for £10, but they also sell cocaine and use this to manipulate people into doing things they want them to do.
"We've flagged this up and spoken to the council and other agencies.
"What we need to do is give them their childhood back."
And some pupils even have a graphic image of what a gang member looks like.
Ms Rebeiro, who asks children to draw their interpretation of a gang member, added: "We've got drawings and they have things like petrol bombs and ammunition."
Les Persaud, who set up the charity Potential, which aims to keep youths off the street and give them information to make the right choices in life, agrees with Ms Rebeiro's assessment.
He describes coming into contact with a six-year-old child talking about drugs, knife crime and domestic violence.
Mr Persaud said: "It doesn't shock me, kids of today know a lot of things. They're very bright and intelligent.
"Maybe they've seen something on TV or heard it in their own community or in earshot – it does happen. Some kids are very good at listening."
Ms Rebeiro's claims come in the week the Advertiser learned how a number of youths under 12 were arrested in the past year.
This included a 10-year-old girl arrested for theft, 12-year-old boys for a sexual offence and a burglary, and a 13-year-old joyrider.
Referring to these statistics, Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell said: "It's shocking to see serious offences like these being committed by young children and it shows the urgent need to support struggling parents and improve discipline in our schools.
"However, we mustn't forget that most young people in the borough are decent, law-abiding people with a lot to offer.
"We must not demonise a whole generation."