Anti-drug testing of students must be done with the consent of the parents, be especially for high school students and be carried out by specialists, says Iulian Cristache, the president of the Parents’ Federation for Playtech.ro. Meanwhile, the Ministries of Health and Education said on Tuesday that they will propose that the testing be carried out in specific cases.
How drug testing should be done. Who is in charge
Drug testing of students could be introduced this year, but there is no concrete date, only that it will be with the consent of the parents. There are no details about the age at which testing begins or who actually does this.
“Just as it was during the pandemic when some of the parents objected to those non-invasive saliva collection tests, there will certainly be parents who object now, no matter what the conditions. I as a parent of a high school kid have no problem with this surprise testing, I’m not talking about the blood test because that’s something else entirely, I’m talking about some non-invasive tests and if the non-invasive test is positive, then really you have to do the blood test too because this is just to support the family.
At the high school, I think that unannounced testing should be introduced, we refuse mass testing from the start because it does not achieve its purpose. The goal is to prevent, mass testing does not prevent because usually the one who is a consumer will definitely not consume 48-72 hours before and then it is also an unnecessary expense, and here it smells like private business to me, so that someone buys millions of these devices overnight”, explained Iulian Cristache, the president of the Federation of Parents for Playtech.ro.
The family must have an important role in this matter and be open to communication with school representatives. Iulian Cristache also explained to us what should be the angle of approach that the authorities should follow.
“Yes, unexpected testing or testing where there are clear indications, the family should be notified in this sense, I agree, you don’t take that child by the hand or the ear, take him to the office and test him. You call your family after class, you don’t make a fuss in class. You call them and tell them that there are some inappropriate behaviors in the child and that they should be tested.
The family comes and takes their child, you can really force it because there will be families who will reject this and are unconscious. If there will be some smart parents and say that their child consumed only occasionally and it was a moment’s fun, they will be fooled,” he added.
Does the school need to know the test results or just the parents?
Drug testing should be done by specialists and under certain conditions, the way in which the student is approached, but also the family, must be taken into account. You have to have one approach with high school students and another with middle school students.
“I agree with high school surprise testing. Why would a 17-year-old student shy away from having some saliva tested? The tests are only private, they are not communicated in class, they are not communicated even to the principal. And those who will test and here I am talking about doctors, not biology teachers or sports teachers, but about a multidisciplinary team that should do these tests, we are talking about a doctor, school assistant, psychologist, the management of the educational unit, if they want there should also be a representative of the parents to ensure that there are no reproaches from the parents, because whatever you tell them, the parents will not believe, so if you have someone of their own, things change.
At the gymnasium it is completely and completely different, there the family must be informed 24-48 hours before so that they have time to take time off and if they refuse it is a family’s sin to refuse such a test. There is no question of parents paying for such tests, we refuse that from the start, and if the state came up with this thing, it must support it from a financial point of view”, Iulian Cristache also said.
At the same time, Iulian Cristache points out, the campaign in schools is also important, considering the worrying statistics: Romania has more and more drug users, and the age of those who start using is decreasing at a dizzying rate.
“The consumption increased alarmingly, it decreased towards the primary school at the border between the primary school and the secondary school. I believe that apart from these preventions that we do and which are on paper, we also need these unexpected controls and a child will not use drugs not because he is tested, but he must be aware that this use will destroy his life.
Then, these campaigns are essential, but we need campaigns not only on paper, but actually done at the level of educational institutions with specialists with video tutorials and everything needed to make these children aware that they are ruining their lives”, the president added Association of Parents.
For his part, Daniel Răduțoiu, colonel in the reserve and former officer at the Gorj Organized Crime Service, explained in an interview for Playtech.ro that there is a need for serious prevention campaigns in schools and as many institutions as possible must be involved, including the National Anti-Drug Agency.
“This trend is from the years 2010-2011 when drug consumption started to increase in Romania, and this results from the indicators calculated year by year by the specialized structures and services. What is worrying is that the prevention programs or the national strategies that aim first of all, the goal is to increase the age of consumption, not to decrease it, and at the same time, the goal is for consumers to use soft drugs, which seems not to be achieved. It lowers the age of the consumer, which is not normal, and increases the use of high-risk drugs.
This results that the strategies thought out at the national level, as well as the prevention programs, are not effective. Much more aggressive campaigns are needed, although the service I worked for dealt with combating drug trafficking and consumption, I tried, seeing the upward trend of consumption of drugs to do preventive actions.
The most effective ones seemed to me to be the ones where there were quite harsh images of drug users with gangrenous arms from the injections they made in their arms and all kinds of images whose faces were removed because you see, God, they were affecting the child’s psyche who was in training and gave up on that idea.
The actions of the National Anti-Drug Agency are reflected in the street because the anti-drug strategy. Their campaigns are equal to zero. It is the street that gives us the answers to what is happening in society, not numbers, not graphs, not results that we did 50 actions in school and what is the result? That the age of the consumer has decreased from 10 to 9 years or from 14 to 12 years old? We are a country that looks good on the numbers, on the papers, but the street pulls us by the hand and tells us that we are a problem”, said Daniel Răduțoiu, colonel in the reserve and former officer at the Gorj Organized Crime Fighting Service.
How the authorities see drug testing of students
The Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health are the institutions that should create a testing guide and a set of instructions.
Last week, Cătălin Predoiu, the Minister of the Interior, said in a press conference that “the battle with drugs in the adult category is lost”, but the young generation can still be saved.
“The battle with drugs, in the adult category, at this moment, is lost. What we have to do is to revitalize this effort on all levels, but the priority is to save the young generation”, said Cătălin Predoiu at DC news.
For his part, Alexandru Rafila, the Minister of Health, said on Tuesday that he rules out mass testing of students and that it must be done only with the consent of the parents.
“We rule out mass testing of all students. This is out of the question from the point of view of the Ministry of Health and I am convinced that from the point of view of the other colleagues as well.
The testing must be done targeted and only with the consent of the parents, if there are cases of suspicion and which can lead to the improvement of the state of health through psychological counseling, through anti-addiction programs for children or teenagers who have consumed drugs”, declared, on Tuesday, Alexandru Rafila, after participating in the signing of the National Action Plan for School Safety, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI).
And Ligia Deca, the Minister of Education, said on Tuesday that the testing will be done after certain steps and in certain situations.
“When there are reasonable suspicions, possible tests can be ensured and settled only with the consent of the parents and ensuring confidentiality, non-discrimination and obviously avoiding stigmatization. We have to look at every child who has an addiction problem, as a child who needs our help”, Ligia Deca explained to Radio Romania Actualității.
On Tuesday, September 5, 2023, the National Framework Action Plan on school safety was signed at the headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The plan aims to increase the safety of students and teachers in educational institutions, at the national level, and is the result of consultations between the technical teams of the signatory institutions, with attributions in the field, held between August 30 and September 5, 2023.
The document was signed by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Cătălin Predoiu, the Minister of Education, Ligia Deca, the Minister of Development, Public Works and Administration, Adrian-Ioan Veștea, the Minister of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities, Natalia – Elena Intotero, the Minister of Labor and Social Solidarity , Simona Bucura-Oprescu, Minister of Culture, Raluca Turcan, Minister of Health, Alexandru Rafila and Mrs. Lavinia Arnăutu, representative of the Department for Romanians Everywhere.