Is Interrogating Children to Find Addict Parents Acceptable?
Author: Justin Mckibben
How addiction effects the children of adult addicts is an important conversation to have, and how a child can be endangered or influenced by their parents addiction is also something that should be considered in a society where we see addiction as one of the greatest threats of our time to our citizens. Drug addiction and overdose death has steadily soared higher and higher in American statistics, and surely across the world we see similar trends of demise and disease associated with drugs.
We know children are impressionable, and we know early trauma and abuse takes a very serious toll on adolescence and teens, but is the possible risk of a child being brought up in what some people would consider a questionable or unacceptable environment enough reasoning to interrogate children to find out if their parents are drug users?
It may be true teaching children about the dangers of drugs and how to identify the elements of this danger early on can be a powerful lesson that leads to healthier decisions, but should schools pressure kids, forcing them to become informants against their parents?
North Korea Creating Conflict
This doesn’t appear to be much of a question to some authorities in North Korea, who have recently stepped up their surveillance of citizens believed to be drug users by interrogating their children in schools!
This method had been initially created under former leader Kim Jong Il and employed by state security agencies to try to eradicate drug smuggling into the isolated country, using children with both visual aids and scare tactics to find drug addicts.
Sources from inside the country say this strategy had been discontinued, but now the old method had been revived to combat the recent increase in drug problems.
A source in South Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service,
“Security officials in charge of schools are intimidating and interrogating elementary school students to investigate drug offenses, and their parents have been immensely shocked about it.”
There have been examples of these methods during one particular period of intensive investigation of local drug use cited by the same source.
The source cited one encounter in Sapo district of Hamhung, capital of South Hamgyong province, where a security official from the country’s state security department, comparable to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) here in the United States, drew pictures of paraphernalia for injecting drugs on the board in an elementary school and asked students in the class what they were.
The security official recorded the names of all the students who responded with “konapal” or “koggiri,” which are Korean slang words for drug paraphernalia.
Then according to the source, the official called each student up one by one to ask them how they knew the names of these illicit objects. Now this alone may not seem too bad, considering that if a student in an American elementary school openly admitted to knowing what a heroin needle or crack/cocaine pipe was someone would probably take notice and show some concern.
Where is gets a little sketchy is the security official continued to coax and even threaten these seven-year-old students into giving up more information.
Of course a frightened child faced with a government official would probably not last long in an interrogation, and many of the students admitted that their parents used drugs. Their parents were then arrested on drug offenses.
The strategy was apparently not well received, since the source concluded that state security department’s use of children to infiltrate the citizen’s homes has infuriated many citizens, noting the countries former leader had actually suspended because of worries about public disaffection.
“Now anonymous investigations are only focusing on drugs, but they likely can be extended later. North Korean residents are at odds, suspecting each other because of the anonymous investigations of drug offenses.”
“The state security department has taken the lead in instigating social conflicts,”
These methods never went over well in the public eye, and many believed they only created more problems.
Fighting ‘Ice’ Outbreak
Long seen as a supplier of the highly addictive drug to China, North Korea experienced an influx of methamphetamines after its neighbor started cracking down on cross-border smuggling.
Since then North Korea has faced a drug addiction problem among youth, workers and even police officers in the past few years, with methamphetamine or “ice” as the major drug of choice. Now the government seems to not be pulling any punches in the fight to shut it down, but is it too much?
Using various techniques to solicit information, including the intimidation and conciliation of children, they have pushed the envelope on drug investigation techniques and their citizens are not all too happy to cooperate.
So is this kind of government intervention acceptable? What would you say if tomorrow this kind of program was implemented in your own children’s elementary school? What if god cop/bad cop was part of the D.A.R.E. program?
Would people in Florida, New York, Colorado or Ohio be happy to know 5th grade teachers were sketching syringes on a chalk board and giving the class aggressive pop-quizzes on paraphernalia? Has the drug problem gotten bad enough to where this is OK, or is our path better suited for education in lieu of intimidation?
Drug use has a great deal of impact in a home, and the children often suffer more than anyone when a parent seems hopelessly controlled by substances and reckless life-styles. But it is not too late for these families to heal, or for children to be given a second chance just like their parents.
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