By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Our Lobby Correspondent
During the last five years, 551 school children have been arrested for drug related offences and were directed to treatment and rehabilitation programs before being released back to society.
However, the growing drug menace is increasingly using school children for trafficking and the target market poses a danger, which is difficult for law enforcement to tackle alone, acknowledged Minister of Law and Order and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayaka yesterday in Parliament.
“We are in the process of building a widespread program of Public Policing Units to curb this issue. As part of this program we educate all stakeholders including the school teachers and the school bus drivers,” said the Minister.
Listing the actions taken, Ratnayaka said: “Programs to prevent school children from addiction to drugs have been initiated and 137 programs have been carried out in 2013 to educate 21,605 students. In 2014 and 15 we were able to conduct 319 programs for 70,322 students and 564 programs for 99,956 students respectively.”
These programs initiate drug prevention educational activities through lectures, seminars, and dialogues focusing on students and contributing towards changes in attitudes through group activities.
“The school children taken into custody are directed to treatment centers in Kandy, Handessa for a three month indoor psychiatric treatment. Opportunities are there to learn subjects relevant to the school syllabus, fine arts and vocational training courses. Psychological counselling is part of this treatment. Personal development activities, sports, music, arts and literature are also being taught,” he added in response to a question by UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana.