Parents reject on-the-spot drug tests, survey says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 4:59am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 3:01pm

Parents have expressed concerns over a government proposal to allow police to conduct on-the-spot drug tests and believe they are being tacitly encouraged to report any suspicions that their children may be taking narcotics.

They also fear handing police the power to force any member of the public to submit to a drug test based on "reasonable suspicion" related to their behaviour or the presence of drugs nearby would invite abuse of authority and possible infringement of human rights, according to the Salvation Army.

Parents also believed the "Rescue drug-testing scheme" could drive drug abuse even further underground.

The Christian organisation has now joined the Hong Kong Bar Association, Hong Kong Medical Association and a social workers' alliance in voicing opposition to the scheme.

The chairman of the government's Action Committee Against Narcotics, Daniel Shek Tan-lei, who is pushing for the scheme, has made repeated references in public about noticing more parents reporting their children for drug abuse.

The Salvation Army interviewed 11 parents and 23 young people aged from 16 and into their early twenties to gauge reaction to the plans to expand police powers.

Everyone interviewed opposed the proposal and they all said they would not seek police intervention to help family members quit drugs.

"It's useless to force someone with no motivation to quit drugs," said a single mother who once sent her 22-year-old drug son to a drug rehabilitation centre.

"He left home for 14 days after being released from the institution and at some point I thought I would never see him again … It's never easy to heal a damaged relationship."

The woman added that her son did quit drugs in the end, and the key to his success was family support.

The Salvation Army said reducing the availability of drugs and giving social workers more support would be more effective in helping drug abusers quit than forcing them to undergo treatment.

The organisation will submit the results of their survey to the government before the end of the current consultation on Friday January 24.