Should school students face mandatory drug testing?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 February, 2011, 12:00am

Matthew Murchie, 17, St Joseph's College

Drug abuse remains a serious problem in schools. The government's repeated anti-drug campaigns bore little fruit.

The problem is that despite all the publicity about the dangers of taking drugs, many young students are led by curiosity and peer pressure to try out drugs. They then fall into a self-destructive habit.

While it's primarily the responsibility of parents to make sure their children stay away from drugs, often they are too busy to keep a close watch on the children.

Therefore, the government's zero- tolerance policy on drug abuse among teenagers through mandatory drug testing is a necessary measure.

The aim of mandatory drug testing is not to punish or humiliate drug-users at school. It is to serve as a strong deterrent and as a means to find students who need help to tackle their addiction.

Some people worry about the logistics of putting such a large-scale policy into practice. They say that money could be better spent elsewhere. But can one really put a price on the health and future of teenage children?

Besides, once drug testing becomes widely implemented, the cost of the technology will inevitably go down.

For the sake of the thousands of drug-abusing students in Hong Kong, the government must adopt mandatory drug testing as the only solution to tackle a worsening problem that shows no signs of improving.

Elise Choi, 16, Sai Kung Sung Tsun Catholic School

A trial scheme on school drug testing in Tai Po district has been launched and completed recently. This is a voluntary scheme and the results have fulfilled expectations. Yet if the scheme was made mandatory, I think things would be very different.

Undoubtedly, a mandatory testing system would nab more drug users among students. Yet the purpose should be not to discipline drug users. Rather, it should be to foster an anti-drug culture in schools and strengthen students' resolve to stay away from drugs in the first place.

Moreover, mandatory tests might violate students' rights. Those that do not use drugs might be offended by having to undergo mandatory tests. This could create hostility towards teachers and the authorities.

Mistrust between teachers and students would also increase. Perhaps even students' academic performance might suffer. I think the government should give schools the freedom to decide whether to test all the students.

Why waste time, money and resources on blanket tests of all students? Besides, habitual drug users have their own ways to avoid being detected by tests.

Making things mandatory is rarely a good policy. It only alienates people and leads to resentment.

Instead of subjecting all students to needless drug tests, the government could better spend resources on helping known drug users, many of whom drop out of school anyway.