Primary school children as young as eight are abusing substances to get high. The shocking statistic was revealed yesterday in a Narcotics Division report, which also said that more than 90 percent of primary schools it surveyed had discovered substance abuse among students.
And older school students are getting their kicks from illegal substances too. Almost all secondary schools have students who abused drugs, the survey found.
The survey, carried out in 2008-09, shows a spike in the number of young drug takers compared with one carried out four years ago.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen said the situation is alarming. "It shows a trend of drug abusers getting younger and more widespread, so the government's tactics to combat drug abuse are necessary and correct," Tsang said.
"Seeing the upward trend of younger drug abusers in Hong Kong, the situation is alarming and worsening but it is yet to run out of control ... and not as serious as in the United States and European countries.
"Many youngsters are trying hard [to cope with the problem]. Hong Kong has to seize every second to combat drug abuse." Just one secondary school out of 112 surveyed and only 10 primary schools out of 94 were found to be drugs free.
The 158,000 respondents - polled from 94 primary day schools, 112 secondary local and international schools, eight universities and colleges and 17 institutions offering post- secondary programs - accounted for 20 percent of Hong Kong's student population of 817,000.
Unveiling the report, Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said: "It is almost impossible for a school to claim that none of its students takes drugs, with such cases even happening at prestigious schools."
The report shows that 1.6 percent of senior primary students, who were surveyed for the first time, had abused drugs at some point.
The youngest respondent claimed to be just eight years old. Among primary students, 37.5 percent were hooked on cough medicine and 30.7 percent on inhalants.
Among secondary students, 4.3 percent said they have abused drugs - a one percentage point increase compared with four years ago. And 4.6 percent of children below 12 indicated they have taken drugs, up 2.4 percent from the previous survey.
For secondary students, ketamine and cannabis are the drugs of choice - about half said those are what they use most.
Going over to a friend's place was where 36.2 percent headed for a snort.
Another 25 percent did it at home, while an equal number use entertainment venues for the purpose. Nearly 3 percent of undergraduates at University Grants Committee-funded institutions and 5.4 percent of other post-secondary program students also reported drug use.
Despite the troubling figures, Lee held out some hope. He said the situation is alarming but "has not yet run out of control and not as bad as some of the developed countries."
Tsang said additional funding in Wednesday's budget shows the government's determination to beat drug abuse. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah proposed putting an extra HK$3 billion into the Beat Drugs Fund. Commissioner of Police Tang King- shing also expressed concern about the increasing number of teenagers involved in drug-related crimes. Police hope to increase the number of liaison officers at schools to help students say no to drugs.
Beatrice Siu | Friday, February 26, 2010
This should be taken with a large pinch of salt!:s