Kely gives support to pupils in drugs war

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00am

Youngsters advised on what tactics to use if offered substances at school

'Stupid' and 'attention-seeking' were the terms used most often when four pupils described drug abusers in their international school.

Christine Liu, Sarah Zhuang, Naomi Dryden and Bonnie Chung, who are 16 and 17, were talking at the Mid-Levels office of the Kely Support Group - an organisation that helps young people deal with drug problems - about real cases of abuse.

'There's a girl in our school who takes cannabis almost once a week. We all know that because she tells everyone about it. She seems to be very proud of it,' Naomi said.

After the girl began to take drugs two years ago, most of her school friends kept their distance - including Naomi.

'She considered drugs as a way to show off or to make her more popular. But the true effect is the opposite,' the Year 12 student said.

To the students, the girl always looks pale, tired and weak with messy hair.

'We once tried to persuade her to quit, but she wouldn't listen. Now none of us wants to be with her, and almost all her friends are addicts.'

Christine described drug trips organised by Year 13 pupils of her school, which have become a summer tradition after graduation.

'They fly to Thailand, or somewhere else, check into a hotel, then have a big party in their room where everybody takes drugs,' she said. 'I think they only care about getting high. They don't believe they will get addicted. That's ignorant.'

The anti-drugs workshop organised by the Kely Support Group equipped them with knowledge about the negative effects of various drugs and skills on how to refuse drugs offered by their friends.

'We are lucky because we received the education before we had any chance to get access to drugs,' Bonnie said. 'We know the consequences, so we won't do it.'

Kely Support Group, which champions self-help and peer support, is to launch a project next year to raise student awareness on the effects of substance abuse, offer coping and refusal skills, and promote peer support for positive role models.

With the aid of Operation Santa Claus, the group will organise anti-drug workshops, day camps and outreach activities for 6,000 pupils in 10 primary and secondary schools.

Referring to the latest figures from the Central Registry of Drug Abuse, Kely executive director Jessie Yee Mean-foong said there had been a dramatic increase in young drug abusers in the past few months.

The authority revealed that the number of reported young drug abusers under 21 surged 10 per cent to more than 1,600 in the first half of this year, compared with 1,487 in the same period last year.

'All young people are vulnerable to drugs, especially those who lack care of families, who are stigmatised at school or are new arrivals in Hong Kong,' Ms Yee said.

Wish list

Wish Kely Support Group wants to raise young people's drug awareness by building leadership skills that help them to become positive role models and pass on anti-drug messages to their peers.

Money needed HK$339,250