Limited professional support for scheme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 12:00am

Schools are not prepared to deal with the many drug users who will be identified by the controversial voluntary school drug-testing scheme, social workers have said.

Nearly two-thirds of social workers believe schools will not be able to provide proper support for drug abusers, according to Hong Kong Social Workers' General Union legislator Cheung Kwok-che.

A survey of 504 social workers at Tai Po schools, where the scheme will start next month, also found 55 per cent thought the scheme was an invasion of privacy. Eighty-three per cent said there would not be enough help centres to cope with all the newly reported abusers, and 92 per cent said rehabilitation programmes alone were not enough to deal with drug problems.

'Social workers think if students were identified as drug users, teachers and pincipals might discriminate against them. This would lead to them being asked to leave, expelled or given a hard time at school,' Mr Cheung said.

The survey also found 86 per cent of respondents objected plans under the scheme to tell law enforcement officers about students who tested positive.

Privacy chief Roderick Woo Bun voiced disappointment that his office was not consulted about the scheme. In a letter to Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung, Mr Woo said he doubted whether parents had the authority under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance to give consent to testing on behalf of a minor.

Mr Woo's letter has been picked up by Shatin Pui Ying College student Timothy Lee, who has called for a judicial review in a Facebook post.

In a timely visit by Korean drama troupe Remnants With The Covenant, the issue of youth drug abuse will be captured in The Covenant Journey from August 21 to 23 at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

We have 10 pairs of tickets to give away. Send your comments on youth drug abuse to yp@scmp.com with 'Youth' in the subject field and include your name, phone number and address by August 18.

Additional reporting by Wong Yat-hei

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