By Colleen Lee and Li Tao
HONG KONG: Almost half of Tai Po secondary school students think the government’s initiative for a voluntary drug-testing trial will not work because it will not deter teens from taking drugs, a survey has found.
The survey also revealed that 27 percent of the 978 students from 22 schools polled intend to refuse to sign consent forms for taking the test, while another 33 percent have not made up their mind.
Law Ming-lam, a core member of the Youngsters Concerning the Tai Po School-based Voluntary Drug-testing Scheme Group which carried out the survey, said, “some students agree that the government has a good motivation, but they think it has come up with improper ways of handling the issue.”
She added, “the efforts will be in vain if students don’t want to get help.”
Almost two-thirds of the respondents found that to relieve the drug problem, the authorities should crack down harder on those who provide the drugs.
Of the 209 students who opposed the scheme and believed it would serve as no deterrent, 15 percent said they would take part in the trial, the findings showed.
Ng Hi-tung, the group’s chairman, said teenagers may be under pressure from parents and peers or they may fear that they will be stigmatized.
He urged the government to listen to students’ views and beef up promotions of drug rehabilitation services.
The poll was carried out from September 9 to 18 after the government withdrew its earlier plan to inform police about students who tested positive for drugs.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong Pik-yee said authorities plan to put off consultation that aims to seek public views on the idea that law enforcers should be empowered to carry out mandatory drug tests anywhere when there are grounds to suspect someone of using drugs.
She said the consultation will start next year instead of late this year, so as to avoid public confusion over the Tai Po drug-testing trial.
Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said he expects introduction of mandatory drug tests will be controversial, so citywide consultation will collect views from groups such as human rights organizations, legal professionals, the media, schools, education groups and social workers.
Police figures released yesterday showed that in the first eight months of this year, 849 teenagers were arrested in connection with drug offences, a 13 percent rise compared to the same period last year.
The figures also showed there had been 2,091 severe drug crimes in the first eight months, up 5 percent year-on-year.
Apart from cannabis, the amount of drugs of all types seized in the first eight months of this year showed a marked rise, the figures showed.
Lee said the spiralling figures reflect the mounting crackdown on drug-related crimes.
(HK Edition 09/30/2009 page1)