Honduras: FUSINA Carries Out Drug Prevention Program Targeting Teenagers, Children
By Kay Valle/Diálogo August 10, 2016The National Inter-Institutional Security Force (FUSINA), through the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP), launched the "Live Better Drug-Free" program. The drug prevention program was created for children and teenagers during their school years. "The program is the Honduran government's response to the increasing use of drugs by children and teenagers at both public and private schools,” said Armando Meza, the program’s director. “According to a study by the Honduran Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Drug Dependence, three out of every 10 students use some type of drug." Since the program will not be limited to prevention, the National Directorate of Social Intervention and the Secretary of Education are part of the initiative. Meza said that the National Directorate of Social Intervention considered the petitions of parents and teachers in extending the program. "We created the 'Student Therapeutic Community' in May 2016, in response to those who are concerned about young people who want to break an addiction. In this stage of the program, we send young people to rehab if they are dependent on a substance. This is done with the help of a psychologist, parents, and teachers." The "Live Better Drug-Free" program, funded by the Honduran government, is administered by the National Directorate of Social Intervention, which has provided computers, the "datashow" program, and other types of equipment. The PMOP contributes logistics, instructors, and printed material. Many civilian volunteers have become involved with the program, telling their personal rehabilitation stories so that their experiences can help young people understand the dangers and consequences of drug use. Lieutenant Mario Rivera, PMOP spokesperson, remarked that curiosity, among other factors, is one of the reasons young people start using drugs, and it becomes difficult to then stop using these substances. "Once they get immersed in the addiction, they become easy prey for dealers to use them in the drug trade," Lt. Rivera said. "Young people who consume addictive substances damage their health first, but they are also exposed to danger when they are employed by drug gangs to commit all kinds of illegal acts,” Lt. Rivera warned. “The young people are forced to belong to gangs, and in some cases they are killed by these very same gangs or by rival groups." Public and private schools will benefit Currently, "Live Better Drug-Free" is taught in public schools, but there are plans to bring this program to private schools in the future. The first program beneficiaries were students from schools in the city of Tegucigalpa, department of Francisco Morazán, San Pedro Sula, department of Cortés, and La Ceiba, department of Atlántida. But it is expected to be expanded to all 18 of departments in the country. Another goal is to bring the program to children from first grade in elementary school to their last year in high school. "So far, over 47,000 students at 35 public institutions have gone through the training in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba, and we hope to have trained over 65,000 young people by the month of November. Thus, we reaffirm our commitment to serving our people," Lt. Rivera said. The program activities are not confined to workshops; the students are given space to demonstrate their talents in sports and in the arts. "There have been a lot of positive stories as a result of the 'Live Better Drug-Free' prevention program. One we can mention is that young people are creating enduring relationships with our instructors,” Lt. Rivera said. “Also, a lot of talented people have emerged in music, dance, and soccer, since we don't only teach workshops through this program. We also have music, dance, and sport activities." Lt. Rivera concluded: "The program is being brought to thousands of young people. We know we still have a lot of people to reach, but we are sure that what they are being taught will save some lives and rescue them from the control of criminal groups. It is this conviction that motivates us to keep fighting against addiction every day."