In schools, inevitable changes await students: they announce what the essential measures will be

“In general, it can be called stable. When it comes to specific criminal acts, first of all, the problem of drug use and distribution – this is a real problem that is, apparently, characteristic not only of Lithuania, but also of other countries. Here we are not exceptional, but it is obvious that we must act actively, proactively”, said A. Bilotaitė at the press conference held on Monday after the meeting with President Gitan Nausėda.

She noted that Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) focuses its activities in three directions – it aims to reduce the availability of drugs, to make the work of officers more efficient and to pay appropriate attention to the prevention of the use of psychotropic substances.

“Regarding the first two (…), the police are actively working here. This is illustrated by pre-trial investigations, the number of which is growing, but apparently this is not the indicator that reveals the situation”, said A. Bilotaitė.

“We are seeing a new trend where minors are also getting involved. If earlier we imagined that it was organized crime, with adults participating in it, now we see the involvement of minors – this is the electronic space, this is the knowledge of technology”, she explained about the newly recorded trends.

At that time, according to the minister, insufficient attention was paid to prevention for a long time.

“We have institutions that work in their fields, but it is clear that some centralization is needed,” she reflected.

Essential tools are recommendations for schools and an information campaign

A. Bilotaitė indicated that the Ministry of the Interior has already taken certain, according to her, tough measures in order to prevent the spread and use of narcotic substances in educational institutions – relevant recommendations have been made to schools, they are encouraged to think about the installation of fences, surveillance cameras, to be able to check children, whether they do not dispose of illegal substances.

“What we have already done is we have prepared safety recommendations for schools. I really hope that those recommendations will be heard and will start to be implemented”, said the minister.

In addition, according to her, in the middle of this month – October 16. – Pilot projects will be launched in 3 municipalities of the country, during which it will be evaluated which prevention measures are the most appropriate and effective.

“We will have the opportunity to test both hard and soft measures in specific schools.” This will allow us to summarize and say which measures really work and work”, explained A. Bilotaitė.

The recently launched information campaign will also be updated.

“We believe that more needs to be done, so we are putting together a new campaign that will illustrate more perhaps the very consequences that arise from the problem of drug use. I hope it will have some resonance and impact,” she added.

According to police data, 150 minors were registered last year, suspected of having committed criminal acts related to possession of narcotic and psychotropic substances and their smuggling. During 8 months of this year, 75 such cases were registered.

Jakšt on the problem of drug use in schools: We don’t want teachers to become police officers

The Minister of Education, Science and Sports Gintautas Jakštas believes that when solving the problem of drug use in educational institutions, teachers should not take over the functions of police officers and check students’ belongings.

“We have to understand that school alone will not solve these problems. We don’t want teachers to become officials, just checking things. The teacher-student relationship is very important, especially in cases where that relationship with the students’ parents is not strong, they have not created a safe connection so that the child can tell his parents about his problems”, said G. Jakštas at the press conference held at the Presidency.

“If teachers become just officers who will check things, it can bring more harm than good. We have to apply all those measures thoughtfully,” he also emphasized.

The Minister emphasizes that the involvement of parents is also very important in solving this problem.

“It is necessary that both parents and guardians become more actively involved in the issue of student safety. It is also possible to think about new formats in schools, where parents would communicate with each other, share experiences and search for answers together”, he thought.

The problem needs to be solved systematically

The minister admits that although it is practically impossible to determine the exact extent of drug use by minors, according to him, when assessing the trends, it is clear that the situation is bad. Therefore, emphasizes G. Jakštas, it is necessary to solve the problem systematically.

“If some preventive measures do not work, it does not mean that prevention does not work in general. All scientific studies show that prevention has the greatest effect. The next step is the establishment of cases and the inevitability of liability. As a result, we need to take steps to identify as many cases of consumption as possible, and once identified, liability is inevitable,” said G. Jakštas.

“The third step is treatment. Again, we see a situation where the treatment and overall attendance at treatment facilities of students who use drugs is very low. Because they have to admit themselves that they are sick, that they are addicted to drugs,” he noted.

G. Jakštas points out that attention is paid to drug prevention in the Life Skills Program.

“The Life Skills Program has already started this year, in which a large part is devoted to the prevention of the use of narcotic substances,” the minister emphasized, noting that it is very important to teach students to say “no”.

Proposes an agreement between schools and children’s parents to exercise control in schools

Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla, who participated in the meeting at the presidency, said that the police had already started a drug prevention campaign in schools. According to him, in continuation of this campaign, it is planned to show students images of how people are affected by drug use.
According to R. Požela, currently, in order to fight drug distribution and drug use among the youth more effectively, it is proposed to make it possible for school administrations to enter into contracts with representatives of children’s parents regarding control actions in schools.

“Regarding inspections, this is the option proposed in our recommendations (…), it is an agreement between the school administration and the student’s authorized person, a representative, so that either the school administration or the security service, if there is one in the school, or the police officers could carry out certain actions with the aim of possibly preventing the execution of criminal acts or administrative offenses.

At this point, in my personal opinion, it would be a better way than establishing this right or duty in the law, because what do we see? Often, children bring a certain code of violent behavior from their families and see the culture of alcohol consumption. We want parents to be our allies and parents to be involved in general prevention,” R. Požėla taught.

According to police data, 150 minors were registered last year, suspected of having committed criminal acts related to possession of narcotic and psychotropic substances and their smuggling. During 8 months of this year, 75 such cases were registered.

Aynura Imranova

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