02/27/2010, 00.00
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Drugs present in over 90% of schools in Hong Kong

A questionnaire shows children under 13 also use drugs. The younger children start with cough medicine and paint thinner, but then switch to cannabis and other drugs, often given them by their classmates.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The alarm is sounding in Hong Kong, where drugs are circulating in more than 90% of primary and secondary schools, and where 3.7% of the students-one out of 27 - admits to having tried some form of drug.  These are the alarming results of a questionnaire carried out in educational institutions, demonstrating the extent of the problem.    

The survey reveals that children under the age of 13 are using drugs. The proportion is 1.6% in primary school, 4.3% in secondary and 2.9% among university students. The anonymous questionnaire, was completed during the last school year by 158,089 students, representing 19.3% of the total.  It reveals that approximately 30,130 students in 3130 in primary schools, 20,640 in secondary education and 1540 University students have at some stage used drugs.  

14% of students claim to have taken drugs at least once a day in the month preceding the survey. Of 94 primary schools, 89% of students have used drugs and only one secondary school out of  112 reports no drug cases. In all 17 post-diploma institutions, including universities, there are students who have taken drugs.    

The substances most commonly used in primary schools are cough medicines  (37.5%) and paint thinner (30.7%). In secondary schools the most widely used are ketamine (approximately 50%) and cannabis (35.6%). Cannabis is used by 70.8% of university students, who also take pure ecstasy (25%).

Carol Ng Suet-kam of the Lutheran Evergreen Center for Social Service in Hong Kong, agrees there is evidence that drugs are being tried at an increasingly early age and warns that more and more often the substance is supplied by friends, rather than by drug dealers.      

The Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yan-kuen believes that drug use among the young is a serious problem but it can be eradicated and is committed to "fighting it with all our might." The government this year has earmarked 3 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 284.6 million euros) for anti-drug initiatives, for detox treatment and the rehabilitation.  

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