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Schools buy drug information from the Scientology movement


Swedish schools continue to employ an organization with close ties to the Scientology movement for drug lectures - despite years of criticism. - It's just snow moss, there's no scientific content whatsoever about it, says Björn Johnson, drug scientist at Malmö University.

For over 20 years, the Swedish National Organization for a Drug-Free Sweden, RDS, lectured to Swedish schoolchildren and released drug information.

The organization has close ties to the Scientology movement and is also known by names such as Drogfritt, and the campaign I Say No Drugs.

In its marketing, it is claimed that it has reached 730,000 children and adults in over 200 municipalities with their lectures.

But the criticism has been harsh.

- You tell stories for young people and you do it in a school context where you have to be correct and factual, says drug researcher Björn Johnson.

Municipalities have paid millions

Already in 2008, SVT's Assignment Review revealed that RDS had a close collaboration with the Scientology Movement's treatment branch Narconon and there has also been criticized for a long time for unscientific content in drug lectures in schools.

Nevertheless, Swedish schools continue to use the organization.

In the past ten years, Swedish municipalities have paid out over SEK 2.2 million to RDS, shows SVT Nyheter's review. It is both lectures and printed material.

A total of 130 Swedish municipalities have at one time paid an invoice from RDS during the last ten-year period.

65 of the municipalities have paid SEK 10,000 or more and three municipalities, Huddinge, Stockholm and Gothenburg, have paid amounts in excess of 100,000. The highest amount comes from Gothenburg, which paid SEK 123,524, for services or printed matter.

"Building on googling"

SVT News has asked Björn Johnson to go through some of the drug information that RDS has produced.

Among other things, the book "Narcotics and such", which is written by the organization's chairman Åsa Graaf and is marketed as an "excellent educational material in schools". According to RDS, the book has been sold in over 30,000 copies.

- Their factual material does not seem to be based on any deeper knowledge of alcohol and drug problems - but rather on the results of googling. It is fragmentary and full of small errors and many references are old, says Björn Johnson.

- Then you pair this with vignettes of the character scare propaganda, small personal stories without source references.

"Just snow"

Björn Johnson also highlights the claim of so-called "retreats".

- Scientology's thoughts on drug addiction are a good idea to point out that all drugs get stuck in fat. And that they can then release from the fat and cause you to be ignited again, that is a false notion.

Björn Johnson has also gone through a series of films in which Drogfritts frontman Alex Breeze, who is called by the organization "one of Sweden's largest drug lecturers", explains things about drugs.

- It's just snow here. There is no scientific content in this. But it is very imaginative and he is quite funny. It is understood that he is popular as a lecturer, says Björn Johnson.

Lays responsibility on the principals

At the same time, Björn Johnson says he hardly thinks the information is harmful.

- If we talk about preventive effects, information has very little effect. But the most serious thing about this is that you tell stories to young people - and you do it in a school context where you have to be correct and factual.

Whose responsibility is it?

- Definitely the principal's. It is not difficult to find out what Drogfritt is for an organization. It is enough to google this lecturer and the organization so information is available about this is a Scientologically linked organization and that there is extensive and long-standing criticism of the message they convey. The only conclusion I can make is that the headmasters must be so stressed that you can't even do a simple googling when it hears from a lecturer. And that's pretty bad.

Huddinge: Will not hire again

Patrik Forshage is high school director in Huddinge municipality. He says the municipality will no longer use RDS for lectures.

- The educational activities in the municipality of Huddinge shall in all respects rest on a scientific basis, in accordance with the School Act. Hiring organizations or lecturers or using material that goes across science is nothing we should do, ”he says.

After all, the criticism of RDS has been around for many years. Why are you only acting now?

- Because I only learned about this now, says Patrik Forshage.

Åsa Graaf is chairman of RDS and does not want to be interviewed by SVT. Via e-mails, she defends RDS drug information and says that they are careful about sources and fact checking. She also denies that they cooperate with or support the Scientology movement.

Source: svt

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