The sale and use of drugs in schools by students was raised at the House education committee on Wednesday, with a spokesperson of the Drug-Free World Foundation Europe raising the alarm over a case of drugs being sold in a school canteen.
In statements made after the meeting, the chairman of the committee, Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, called on the government and education ministry to proceed with an administrative or even a disciplinary enquiry into the reported case of drugs being sold to students by a licensed school canteen manager.
The drug squad deputy-chief, Stelios Sergides, told the committee that the case had not been reported to the authorities, and asked that further information be provided so that it could be investigated.
The foundation’s spokesperson replied that their knowledge of the canteen manager’s actions came from parents who had attempted to report the matter, but began receiving threats, forcing them to abandon efforts.
The school where the reported case allegedly took place is not yet known.
Sergides informed the committee of the measures already being taken to tackle drug use and alcohol consumption in schools through police presence and checks.
A total of 70 students were arrested in 2018 in connection to drugs, he said, 68 of whom were users between the ages of 15-18 who were then registered into treatment programmes. The other two were dealers.
In 2017, 66 students were referred to treatment programmes and 46 in 2016.
Even so, Sergides highlighted the severity of the problem by referring to a survey conducted Europe-wide in 2015 on alcohol and drug use in schools (Espad), on which Cyprus ranked second regarding alcohol consumption, surpassed only by Lichtenstein, with an average consumption of eight drinks (9.6 for boys and 6.7 for girls) within 30 days.
The president of the Cyprus National Addictions Authority, Chrysanthos Georgiou, told the committee that 87 per cent of government funds allocated for the tackling of addictions are spent on supressing the problem and only 13 per cent on prevention, therapy and reintegration, highlighting the ineffectiveness of the current approach.
Hadjigiannis expressed the committee’s disappointment over actions aimed at tackling the issue which he said was real and growing and which could not be effectively tackled through checks and policing.