Representatives of the Drug Policy Network South East Europe, including Nebojša Đurasović, member of the DPNSEE Board, Irena Molnar, DPNSEE Communication officer and office manager and Milutin Milošević, Executive director, met with Ms Vesna Dejanović, Project Officer Child Protection at the UNICEF Belgrade Office. The meeting was held on 11 August 2017.
The motive for the meeting was decision of the Novi Sad authorities to supply free drug tests to parents in local schools (last two classes of elementary and all secondary schools) as from the start of the new school year. DPNSEE sent a letter to the UNICEF Representative in the Republic of Serbia stating that we find this action is jeopardizing children rights and very problematic for several reasons, including:
- Drug testing in schools is not needed and effective; even it is forbidden in some EU countries.
Whatever the results of the test should be, confirmed drug use or parents’ mistaken assumptions, the trust between children and parents will be broken.
- The test are already available in pharmacies. This action can only raise paranoia among parents and have unanticipated and unintended effects.
- The tests can recognise only “traditional” psychoactive substances – and for each of them a separate test is needed. For a full evidence of drug use, a complete set of several tests is needed!
- The tests are not functioning with the new psychoactive substances which are even more dangerous than the traditional ones. Young people will simply start using new substances, which may cause more harm than what we have today.
DPNSEE thinks that the society need to invest more into serious and comprehensive prevention, adjusted to current situation, not to repressive measures. That has to be part of a systematic approach to the problem of drug use, especially for children and young people, ranging from school based programs to community interventions.
We informed Ms Dejanović that we shall certainly make an action to oppose this proposal of the local authorities in Novi Sad, which will probably include communication with responsible national institutions (ministries of education, youth and health, Office for combating drugs, etc.).
Another topic for discussion was legislation in the area of social care, where more attention should be given to drug users, especially those who come out of medical treatment or penalty. We agreed to share information about drafts of laws, where DPNSEE shall send our proposals related to the changes of the Law on psychoactive controlled substances.
DPNSEE presented activities on treatment and care of children who use drugs and actions taken by the member organisation HOPS.