Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Officials tackle drugs and violence

YOUTH CRIME Urine screening on school and college campuses will form part of a joint government campaign to fight illegal and harmful behavior among young people

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to eradicate drugs and violence from school and college campuses, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday launched a campaign to fight the two major causes of youth crime and build healthier campuses.

With the assistance of the MOI and DOH, the education ministry announced several strategies to fight campus violence and drug abuse, including the establishment of hotlines at the National Police Agency to report campus crimes, expanding the "anti-drug promotional lecture" tour and conducting urine screening on campus.

"While fighting campus violence and drug abuse is a joint effort by the three governmental units, the heaviest responsibility lies with the education ministry," said Education Minister Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝).

"We [the education ministry] stand in the front line to provide preventive measures to educate our kids about the danger of drugs and violence. If we can prevent them from going astray, remedial measures by the MOI and DOH will be unnecessary," Tu said at a press conference to announce the campaign.

Minister of the Interior Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) promised back the education ministry in the battle against violence and drugs.

"Youth crime stems mostly from problematic family relationships. With more and more families losing the function of offering a support system for their children, schools are playing an important role to safeguard our children from getting hurt by drugs and violence," Su said.

"The National Police Agency has been working with the education ministry to eradicate illegal operations around campuses and set up crime-reporting systems with schools. We [the MOI] will continue offering backup forces to keep the youth away from drugs and campus violence," he said.

According to figures released by the education ministry, a total of 133 students violated the Statute for Narcotics Hazard Control (毒品危害防治條例) last year. In addition, 656 cases of campus violence were reported last year.

Pan Hwai-tzong (潘懷宗), one of the lecturers of the "anti-drug promotional lecture" tour, which started visiting elementary and junior-high school campuses in 1997, said that, besides educating the youth about the danger of drugs, it is equally important to inform those who are already addicted to drugs about how to seek help.

"More and more young people use drugs nowadays, and the average age of drug addition is dropping to 12 or 13 years old. Usually they first take drugs out of innocence or after being seduced by their peers," said Pan, a pharmacology professor at the National Yang-Ming University.

"We focus on informing students about the harm drugs cause to people, and helping them to recognize different kinds of drugs. But I think it is crucial to encourage them to seek help," he said.

Pan said that addicts who seek help at rehabilitation centers will not run the risk of a criminal record, while selling drugs may lead to life in jail or even the death penalty.

"So we need to tell those young drug addicts not to be afraid of seeking assistance from their family, schools or rehabilitation centers, to let them know that they can choose to rebuild their lives before it's too late," Pan said.

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