Girls taking drugs from early age
Two-thirds of the teenage girls interviewed by a social services team working with young drug abusers started taking drugs between the ages of 11 and 13.
But only one-third of the boys polled by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong's youth outreach social services team admitted taking drugs at that age. The team discovered that one youngster had started taking drugs when he was just seven.
'It is alarming that teenage girls started to abuse drugs at the age of 11,' North District youth outreach team leader Paul Lo Po-sing said.
'They are provided with free drugs like ketamine by male companions, and sexual abuse or indecent assault are frequently involved.'
Church social workers interviewed 231 boys and girls in Tin Shui Wai and North District who took drugs, in March and April, in a bid to understand their behaviour. Overall, 43 per cent had their first drug experience between the ages of 11 and 13, and 51 per cent between 14 and 15.
Of the 45 girls interviewed, 67 per cent had their first drug experience when they were aged 11 to 13.
'Teenage girls are more mature than boys, and this and their concerns about peer recognition might be reasons for this,' Mr Lo said.
He suggested that government records should involve different age categories for drug abusers under 16 instead of the current broad category of 'abuser aged under 16'.
Half of the teenagers said they had personal experience of a drug overdose, and 82 per cent said they had friends who had overdosed.
Sixty-six per cent said they had taken drugs in public areas, including staircases, parks and street corners, and 61 per cent said they had at times taken drugs at a friend's home.
'It reflects the fact that teenagers do not believe drug abuse is wrong and they are seldom arrested on drug-related offences in public areas,' Mr Lo said.
'Some even put a pack of ketamine in their wallets so they can take it any time.'