Pubdate: Wed, 09 May 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: John Hooper, Rome
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Parents in the Italian city of Milan are being offered do-it-yourself 
narcotics testing kits to check their children for drug use.

Over the next few days, the city's council will send letters to 
almost 4,000 homes with children between the ages of 13 and 16. 
Inside will be a voucher that can be exchanged at chemists for one of the kits.

Similar to a home pregnancy test, the kit requires a urine sample and 
can be used to reveal traces of any one of five drug groups, from 
amphetamines to opiates.

The letters will initially be sent to an area on the city's 
outskirts, but the councillor responsible for health, Carla De 
Albertis, said the aim was to provide a kit to every home with a 
child in the target age group. "By the end of the year, we shall have 
extended the initiative to the entire city."

Ms De Albertis is a member of the formerly neo-fascist National 
Alliance. Under the previous government of Silvio Berlusconi, the 
party's leader, Gianfranco Fini, led moves - since reversed - to 
abolish the distinction in law between "soft" and "hard" drugs. A 
survey carried out five years ago in Milan concluded that almost half 
of the city's 13- to 17-year-olds had experimented with drugs.

Ms De Albertis's plan, which is heavily subsidised by the 
manufacturers, has won backing from Milan's chemists, but stirred 
doubts among politicians. A centre-left opponent on the council, 
Marilena Adamo, said: "In place of dialogue, what is being said is 
'spy on your children'."

There was criticism too from National Alliance allies. Giulio 
Gallera, the spokesman for Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, said: 
"Turning parents into police officers is not the way to solve this problem."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman