Trial Scheme on Tai Po School Drug Testing completed smoothly

     The Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po District (School Year 2009-10) launched last December has been completed smoothly.

     More than 12,400 students have joined the trial scheme.  A total of 2,495 students were randomly selected for the screening test.  Of these, 1,975 students took the test and no confirmed positive case was found.

     Among the selected students, 459 students were assessed as being not suitable for the test in view of their physical condition or having taken medications.  Fifty-five students could not provide a urine specimen for the test at the relevant time.  Six students refused to take the test and the schools contacted their parents according to the protocol.

     Since the launch of the scheme, four false-positive cases were found following confirmatory testing by the Government Laboratory.  The concerned students and parents were informed immediately of the results.

     Since the announcement of the participation rate last December, 68 more students and their parents joined the scheme, while seven students and their parents withdrew from the scheme.

     A government spokesman said today (June 28), "The purposes and imperatives of the scheme are to enhance the resolve of those students who have not taken any drugs to continue to stay away from drugs, and to trigger the motivation of those students abusing drugs to quit drugs and seek help, and to provide appropriate support services to those students who wish to pull themselves out of the drug trap.

     "The scheme has been guided by four principles, namely 'helping students in their best interest'; 'voluntary participation'; 'keeping personal information strictly confidential'; and 'professional testing and support services for students'.

     "With the support of school principals, teachers, social workers, parents and students of the 23 participating schools, the scheme has been completed smoothly under the four guiding principles. The Government would like to extend its sincere appreciation to them for their efforts in fostering a no-drug culture on campuses."

     The Project Officer responsible for observing the drug testing process said that the drug testing had been carried out according to the scheme protocol, and that all personal information related to drug testing has been properly protected according to the requirements of the scheme protocol. Overall, participating students and parents have been positive about the scheme and co-operative.

     According to the Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service Cheer Centre, since the announcement of the scheme in mid 2009, there has been a rising trend of cases seeking assistance. The rise may be attributable to the positive effect of the scheme.

     The Government has commissioned a professional research organisation to undertake a parallel comprehensive assessment of the design, implementation and effectiveness of the scheme, study other local and overseas experiences in school drug testing, and suggest appropriate refinements and revisions to the scheme.  The study is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.  The Government will consider the research recommendations and then decide on the way forward.

Ends/Monday, June 28, 2010
Issued at HKT 14:52