Experience counts in drug war

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2008, 12:00am

The most effective way of discouraging teenagers from taking drugs is to let them hear about the harmful effects from former drug addicts, a survey has found.

Conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups between February and March, the survey interviewed 532 young people aged between 10 and 24 on their views on the different strategies adopted to dissuade them from using drugs.

More than 74 per cent said talks by former drug users on the harmful effects of narcotics were the most effective.

Disseminating medical information followed closely with 70 per cent of the vote. The least effective method was using star power to get the point across, with only 39.5 per cent of the vote. The survey also studied the role played by schools, families and society in spreading anti-drug messages among young people. The survey revealed the obstacles faced by these sectors in getting their message across.

More than 30 per cent of the respondents said their parents had the greatest responsibility to dissuade them from using drugs. However, less than 40 per cent said their parents had talked to them about drug use.

To understand why parents seem indifferent to the issue, three focus groups of parents were held. Researchers discovered that some don't understand drugs or fail to understand the severity of the problem among the youth of today.

The efforts launched by local schools to combat teenage drug use were also studied. About 40 per cent of young people said the anti-drug talks or activities held by their schools were useful.

The study also highlighted the obstacles faced by schools in their efforts to keep students away from drugs. These include insufficient resources and a lack of understanding of drugs.

Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, the executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said more resources should be set aside for anti-drug education.

Dr Wong also warned about the rising trend of local youngsters getting drugs across the border.

'As the transport systems linking Hong Kong and the mainland become more convenient, the problem of across-the-border drug taking will worsen,' she cautioned.