Tech & Rights

Drug Raids on Italian High Schools Increase, Underscoring Failed Policy

Sniffer dogs, arrests, and lasting trauma: recent drug raids on Italian high schools are just more evidence of the failure of the war on drugs and the country's "zero tolerance" policy.

by Pauline Couble
In the last few weeks, Italian schools have been subjected to a series of anti-drug police raids, raising questions about the logic and effectiveness of this approach.

Drug raids in Italian high school are becoming a recurring event in Italy. The first took place in a Bologna high school, where the principle had helped organize the raid. Policemen entered classrooms with sniffer dogs and proceeded to conduct searches of the students.

Similar occurrences unfolded in Rome, where a 17-year-old student was arrested in his school, in front of all the other pupils.

Important demonstrations by students and parents followed, and the organizations Forum Droghe and Antigone published an article to point out the fundamental problem linked to these violent interventions (which are also blatantly useless).

Educate before punishing

School is not a place outside of the law and young people have to be protected from the dangers of drugs, but to ensure this protection, Italian drug policy must be reformed.

The adoption of a violent approach to penalize young people in possession of small amounts of cannabis is completely disproportionate. It is about teenagers and hashish; intervening police obviously did not face large-scale drug traffickers.

These interventions only traumatize and stigmatize students, and may even push some of them directly towards the black market.

New approach

The main reproach of civil society is that nothing else has been tried other than police intervention. It is time for Italy to cease with this pointless activity and instead adopt a harm-reduction approach towards drugs.

Money should instead be spent on improving communication, information sharing, and harm reduction. Adults have to find words to speak about the problem to protect future generations and avoid future failures.

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