Minister of Education Roman Giertych plans a new kind of institution to educate students who disrupt the learning process at regular schools. The country already has two kinds of educational institutions to deal with unruly students. Giertych wants another because there isn?t enough room at the other two kinds of centers to handle the number of disruptive students. The proposed program will give school officials the power to send many unruly students to new educational care support centers. Under the current system for dealing with delinquents, courts make the decision in most cases. The new centers are part of an Education Ministry initiative called ?Zero Tolerance for Violence at School.? The types of educational institutions for troubled youth that Poland has at the moment are youth educational care centers and social therapy care centers. There are two ways for youths to end up in the institutions. Family courts can refer disruptive students to either type. And parents can ask that a child be placed in a social therapy care center. The problem with both kinds of centers is lack of room. In 2006 the country had 55 youth educational care centers that could accommodate 3,461 students and 45 social therapy care centers that could accommodate 3,190. The number of students whom courts have referred to each kind of facility far outstrips the number of slots available, however. Thus, many unruly students continue to go to regular educational facilities, disrupting learning there. The ?Zero Tolerance? program is aimed not only at student physical violence and verbal abuse but also bullying and use of alcohol and drugs. The ministry wants to phase it in between 2007 and 2013. Along with its tougher approach, the ministry is taking steps to give more educational help to students who are violent or maladjusted. The ministry has also asked Parliament for a nighttime curfew on youths. Under the proposed law, police could arrest youths on the street or other public places who were not under adult supervision. Police could put a youth in a juvenile detention center until he or she could be returned to his parents? care.Another part of the Zero Tolerance program is Giertych?s proposal to deal more harshly with those who sell alcohol or drugs to minors.Current Polish law treats the sale of alcohol to minors as a relatively minor offense. That is one reason that stores sell alcohol without carefully checking a buyer?s identification for proof of age.The new law would treat those who sell alcohol to minors as accessories to whatever crimes the minors committed while under the influence.The Education Ministry also wants Parliament to ban the distribution of software and games containing violence, pornography and other content deemed harmful to the mental development of children and youth. Many people oppose the new proposals. The opposition Civic Platform Party says what the ministry wants to do smacks of a police state rather than a democracy.
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