Battle against drugs can only be won by focusing on families

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 July, 2009, 12:00am

With Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen leading the charge, the whole campaign against drugs looks to be a no-holds-barred effort to combat the problem.

However, the tactics so far are none other than attempts to stem supply, tests to find out, education to warn and programmes to rehabilitate. And when it comes to banning things our government is all revved up. There is a suggestion to ban teens from going to cybercafes. What next? Ban them from parks, beaches, schools and even their own homes?

It is surprising that there is still a market for the notion that when drugs disappear our youths will become the healthy and diligent teenagers we love to see. Accessibility is never the reason why they take drugs, nor is the threat of harmful effects ever an effective deterrent. Most teens take drugs out of a deep sense of hopelessness. They cannot see a future. They do not see an escape from the way of life considered normal in our society - the poor having difficulty making ends meet, no matter how hard they work and the rich never getting enough, no matter how much they already have. In a way, we, as a society, have failed them. They take drugs to say no to the values and way of life we are modelling for them.

There are many young people who feel this way. Some take drugs but many more choose other avenues. They stay home and do virtually nothing.

This is a serious social problem which cannot be solved by adopting measures which curb, penalise or even try to educate. We need to go back and ask how we want Hong Kong families to function. How can you have a family where there is love, care and support, when the parents do not even have the time to talk to each other? Mr Tsang, please change your focus from one on drugs to the family at large.

The problem can only be solved by changing family life and giving qualities that are measured not by the abundance of wealth that can be accumulated, but by the abundance of time members of a family can share with each other.

Dogs sniffing the kids in schools? Give us a break. What we need are social programmes aimed at improving family life.

J. Y. K. Cheng, Quarry Bay