Random testing will not solve serious teen drug problem

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am

I refer to Michael Chugani's Public Eye column ('Drugs have church in a muddle', August 5) on the issue of random drug testing of students.

I thank him for his request to readers to pray for the Catholic Church. We all need prayers.

I am a Catholic priest and have been working in Hong Kong for the past 18 years.

Since 1995 I have been regularly visiting prisoners, especially drug addicts.

I have visited them in Hei Ling Chau treatment centre and in Pik Uk prison and correctional centre.

I am sorry to have to tell readers that very few of them give up their drug habits.

Last week I conducted a funeral for a drug addict who had left the church many years ago.

He had been an addict for several years and was in and out of prison.

His family and the relevant government departments knew he was an addict.

I have met with and helped the parents of drug addicts.

It is so painful to listen to some of their experiences and their struggles.

From my many years of experience and understanding, I feel that the most important place to tackle the problem of drug taking is the family.

In Hong Kong the quality of family life needs to improve.

We also need to see an improvement in the value systems.

I do not think the drug tests will be of much help, because of the attitude of young people in Hong Kong. They lack patience, vision and the right values. Money now seems to be at the centre of our society.

Money can buy things and it can bring excitement and pleasure, but not true happiness or genuine love.

The Catholic Church is doing its part to help its members and society to have better families, schools and a better society and world.

It is not that 'the priests lost their way', rather that they are trying to find out the root cause of the problem and treat it. Prevention is better than cure.

Father James Areechira, prison chaplain for Pik Uk prisons