Hong Kong: School kids on drugs at eight

By enquirewithin · Feb 26, 2010 · Updated Feb 26, 2010 · ·
  1. enquirewithin
    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

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  1. enquirewithin
    Youth drug abuse figures show that more than 90 per cent of primary and secondary schools have pupils taking psychotropic drugs. The security chief called the figures alarming.

    They emerged from a survey, the biggest of its kind conducted in Hong Kong schools, that also found that drug-taking by secondary pupils had increased, particularly among younger ones.

    Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said the survey, which included upper classes in primary schools for the first time, found a drug problem did exist at that level. He said the rate was not 'too high' but 'it is alarming'. His bureau plans to test public sentiment this year about mandatory drug testing in schools.

    Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the youth abuse drug problem was serious but not irrevocable. 'We will use all efforts to fight against this problem,' Tsang said.

    The results of the four-yearly survey were released a day after the government announced in its budget an extra HK$3 billion for the Beat Drugs Fund to fund anti-drug programmes, treatment and rehabilitation.

    The survey found 3.7 per cent of students - one in 27 - reported having experiences with psychotropic drugs. In primary schools the figure was 1.6 per cent, in secondary schools it was 4.3 per cent and at universities 2.9 per cent.

    Four years ago the percentage of secondary school pupils with experience of such drugs was 3.3 per cent - one percentage point lower than now. The rise was much bigger among schoolchildren aged under 13.

    Four years ago 2.4 per cent said they had experienced psychotropic drugs; now 4.6 per cent say they have.

    Frontline social workers who deal with children and young drug users say the age at which children first try drugs has fallen.

    Carol Ng Suet-kam, of the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service's Evergreen Lutheran Centre, said the youngest user they had dealt with was a Primary Five girl who was referred by her school. The girl, now 15 and still seeking its help, first took Ecstasy when she was nine.

    'She got the drug from her peers in the public housing estate where she lives. She never had the money to buy drugs,' Ng said. 'The ketamine she later took was given to her by friends. While you got drugs from traffickers in the past, you get them from your friends now.'

    The security chief denied the government's efforts to tackle drug abuse had neglected primary school children. 'We will step up our education and promotion campaign starting from Primary One,' Lee said.

    He said the city's youth drug problem was less serious than elsewhere in the world, since 22 per cent of British schoolchildren aged 11 to 15, and 47 per cent of Grade 12 students in the US, had taken drugs.

    The survey results come three months after trial voluntary drug tests began in Tai Po schools.

    Lee said the Security Bureau would consult the public this year about the need for mandatory testing of students. 'Mandatory drug tests are very controversial, they touch on legal issues, human rights issues and technical issues of enforcement,' he said.

    Commissioner of Police Tang King-shing said the force would work with mainland counterparts to tackle the supply of illicit drugs.

    In all, 158,089 students - 19.3 per cent of the total - completed questionnaires anonymously during the last school year.

    As a result, it is estimated that 30,180 students - 3,130 in upper primary classes, 20,640 in secondary schools and 1,540 in university undergraduate programmes - have taken drugs.

    Fourteen per cent of the students said they had used illicit drugs at least once a day on average in the month before the survey.

    Of the 94 participating primary schools, 89 per cent had students who had taken drugs. Only one of the 112 secondary schools surveyed had no drug cases. Students at all 17 post-secondary institutions surveyed, included universities, had used drugs.

    On average, there were five drug-taking students in each affected primary school and 32 in each affected secondary school.

    The most used drugs among primary school children were cough medicines and paint thinner, used by 37.5 per cent and 30.7 per cent respectively of those who admitted drug use.

    Half the drug-taking secondary students took ketamine and 35.6 per cent cannabis. Cannabis is most popular among drug-taking university students - 70.8 per cent said they had used it - followed by Ecstasy, used by one in four.

    Wong Yam-wah, school development officer with the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations in Tai Po District and the father of a son who is in Primary Five, fears primary schools will be infiltrated by drug-takers.

    'I will keep a close watch on him. With the internet and Facebook being so popular, you never know who your child is hanging out with,' he said.

    Leung Siu-tong, chairman of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, said primary school pupils' exposure to drugs had become a more serious issue.

    He faulted the survey, though, saying the finding that 111 out of 112 secondary schools had drug users was not representative of the drug-taking scene.

    'There might be just one student drug user out of the whole student population at a school,' he said.

    Meanwhile, a 16-year-old unemployed boy who offered to sell ketamine on the internet was arrested when police raided his home in Tung Chung, Lantau, yesterday.

    The scores

    Estimated percentages of students who take drugs at various levels

    Primary: 1.6 Secondary: 4.3 Undergraduates: 2.9 Other post-secondary: 5.4 Overall: 3.7

    International comparisons (%) US Grade 8: 19.6 US Grade 10: 34.1 US Grade 12: 47.4 UK students aged 11-15: 22 European male students aged 15-16: 23 European female students aged 15-16: 17

    SOURCE: SECURITY BUREAU | Friday February 26 2010

    Alarm as children at 90pc of schools admit using drugs

    Phyllis Tsang, Elaine Yau and Clifford Lo

  2. enquirewithin
    Rate of secondary student drug use at 4.3%

    Cough syrup and thinner abuse reported by 1.6% of pre-teens

    HONG KONG: The drug problem in schools is growing - with younger and younger students abusing drugs, according to the 2008-09 Survey of Drug Use Among Students released yesterday by the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau.

    The survey shows that 4.3 percent of secondary school students have abused drugs - up 1 percent from 4 years ago.

    "The problem of prevalence of youth drug abuse is becoming more serious," Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee said. "Out of the 112 secondary schools, only one of them reported that students have not taken drugs while there are 84 out of the 94 primary schools said students have taken drugs before."

    The survey was conducted during the 2008-09 school year and was based on questionnaires completed by about 158,000 students anonymously. The survey covered 94 primary day schools, 112 secondary day schools, eight universities and 17 institutions.

    Lee said the government will commence public education to try to wake up kids and the community at large by underscoring the harmful effects of drugs among junior primary students.

    "This is our first time to have senior primary students included in our survey," Lee said. "It does reveal that drug problems exist among primary pupils. The rate is not too high - about 1.6 percent but it's alarming. We have not neglected this group of pupils and we'll step up our education and promotion starting from primary one. We hope that with our joint effort with the educators, teachers and headmasters, we can erase this unwelcome trend."

    The most common types of drugs used by upper primary students were "cough medicines" and "thinner", accounting for 37.5 percent and 30.7 percent, respectively. Secondary students tend to take "ketamine" and "cannabis".

    Officials could give no specific reasons for the apparent widening of the drug culture into younger children, other than easy access.

    The survey also affirms the hidden subculture of youth drug abuse. Among secondary students who claimed they abused drugs, 36.2 percent said they took drugs in friend's homes while 25 percent took drugs in their own homes. Only about a quarter abused drugs in entertainment venues.

    Lee took a conservative approach on the question of whether the Tai Po drug testing trial would become mandatory.

    "Mandatory drug testing is very, very controversial which touches on legal issue, human rights issue and maybe technical issues for enforcement," Lee said. "We have not ruled out this option completely. The government will do some research. We will conduct a public consultation exercise later this year to tack on the community sentiment."

    Lee also said that he would consider whether the scheme should be promoted among secondary schools or even primary schools in other districts after the evaluation of the Tai Po program in the middle of this year.

    About 61 percent of the students studying in Tai Po registered to take part in the trial drug testing scheme. After more than two months of tests, not a single student has tested positive for drugs.

    Financial Secretary John Tsang, in his budget address yesterday, announced that an additional HK$3 billion would be injected into the Beat Drugs Funds.

    Principal anti-drug measures to be rolled out include opening four new counseling centers for psychotropic substance abusers; strengthening the manpower of District Youth Outreaching Social Work teams; enhancing the Police School Liaison Scheme; increasing the number of police dogs and relevant police posts; stepping up anti-drug publicity work; promoting a community mobilization program and increasing the capacity of youth drug treatment and rehabilitation center subvented by Department of Health.

    "The government is committing to combating youth drug abuse along the five strategic directions promulgated by the chief executive," Lee said.

    The five directions are community mobilization, community support, drug testing, treatment and law enforcement.

    Meeting the press at a luncheon yesterday, Chief Executive Donald Tsang emphasized the necessity and merits of the government's anti-drug strategies on campus.

    "Though nobody was tested positive under the voluntary school drug testing program in Tai Po, the number of students seeking help with social workers has markedly increased. This showed the program has positive effects in early intervention and in providing assistance to drug users," he said.

    Compared to some Western countries, Hong Kong's situation is not "irremediable" since most students admitting to have taken illicit drugs were only trying them, Tsang said.

    He said the trial scheme will be carefully evaluated before deciding whether to roll it out to other schools.

    Tsang pledged the government's utmost effort to help students live drug-free lives.


    By Phoebe Cheng and Joy Lu (HK Edition) | Updated: 2010-02-26 07:3


    Does anyone else find the hypocrisy in the picture above absurd? Toasting drug free kids with alcohol.
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