MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Health Ministry promised on Wednesday to review a form intended to screen schoolchildren for possible illegal drug use, after online criticism that it resembled a “study guide for young addicts.”
The form, intended for children as young as ten, asks students if they have ever used any of a wide range of narcotics, ranging from “heroin” and “LSD” to “hallucinogenic mushrooms” and “crack.”
“Even a normal child will search on the internet to find out what they’ve given him to read at school,” wrote “Ivan Webster” on a Facebook page for Russian doctors. “This is simply study guide for young addicts, not part of the fight against drug abuse.”
“This resembles the promotion of drug abuse,” wrote a Live Journal blogger named doctor-killer. “Even if a child didn’t know what hallucinogenic mushrooms and crack were before, after reading this he’ll definitely get interested. And the distance between interest and trying something among teenagers is not that great.”
Speaking to the government Rossiisskaya Gazeta newspaper, a Health Ministry official admitted on Wednesday the wording of the form was “unfortunate.” He said the ministry would issue a statement after a review of the form. But he also noted that “not all children are the same.”
The form also asks children if they have had unprotected sex they regretted the next day – and, if so, was the sex performed “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol?
“At ten years old, girls dream of princes on pink horses, and they are asking them about unprotected sex on psychoactive drugs?” noted another blogger, Sergei Suvorov.
The form also asks children if they have tried “moonshine” or whiskey.”
But an expert interviewed by Rossiisskaya Gazeta denied there was anything wrong with the wording of the form.
“We have to talk to children about drugs, and there is nothing terrible about this,” said Vladimir Ivanov, head of the Russia without Narcotics organization. “Children have to know what they might encounter at any moment and what risks there are.”
Then President Dmitry Medvedev said in 2011, citing figures provided by experts, that there were 2.5 million drug abusers in Russia and 70 percent of them were under 30 years of age.