TWENTY-three boarders of a high school in Bua on Vanua Levu reportedly ran away from school over an alleged incident of glue sniffing.
The boarders, all girls, are believed to have run away from the school compound after the principal told them off the previous day.
The situation has prompted calls from the chiefs of Bua for parents to play an active role in teaching their children respect and discipline.
Bose vanua o Bua secretary and Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea said this was a matter parents needed to seriously look into.
"We have been informed of the incident and I believe that the principal has every right to discipline them because they did something unlawful in the school compound," he said.
"The situation must have been really serious and that's why they were being told off.
"The principal did what he was supposed to do and I don't see any reason why the students had to rebel and ran away.
"It was also brought to our attention that the students all went together to a village and spent the night there before their parents were alerted of the situation."
Ratu Orisi said it was important for parents to teach their children and urge them to study hard and not to resort to substance abuse.
When contacted yesterday, relatives of one of the boarders who preferred anonymity, said the students sniffed glue on Sunday night and were spoken to by the school head on Monday.
"On Tuesday night, they ran away when the school generator was turned off," the relative said. "They went to a village and slept there.
"Their parents were informed and the students were called back in. Police were also informed of the matter and right now, the school is still trying to determine where the boarders got the glue from.
"Three of the boarders who have been frequently sniffing glue, are expelled from the hostel while the rest have been given last warnings."
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said they were aware of the matter, adding a collaborative effort to control drug and substance abuse in schools was necessary.
Just a fortnight after the anti-drug week campaign, Insp Sokomuri said it was really important for everyone to work together.
"It's a matter of working together with the authorities responsible, parents and teachers in order to change the mind-sets of students and help them turn away from using drugs and other related substances," he said.
Divisional education officer northern Satya Nand Shandil said he was not aware of the matter but would look into the matter if it was brought to his attention by the education office in Bua.