Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry budgets NT$36m to combat drugs at school

VIGILANT:Drug use is expected to rise with the summer break, the Ministry of Education said, urging parents to pay attention to symptoms of drug use in their children

By Rachel Lin  /  Staff reporter

From left, Y.L. Lin Hung Tai Education Foundation chief executive Chen Ming-li, graphic designer of Line sticker set “Textbook goes koo-koo” Turtle Liu, Criminal Investigation Bureau Department of Crime Prevention Director Lee Chien-kuang and others attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday about a new drug awareness campaign organized by the foundation.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The Ministry of Education has this year allocated more than NT$36 million (US$1.18 million) to raise awareness of drug abuse, reflecting the government’s concerns over drug abuse among children and teenagers.

The number of teenagers abusing drugs has increased by 130 percent, from 7,491 to 9,779 people, between 2013 and last year, the National Police Agency said.

The greatest challenge in fighting drug abuse is identifying the drugs, as they are often mixed into food and beverages, the ministry said.

By mixing drugs with food, teenagers become less aware of them and police cannot easily detect them, it said, adding that mixed drugs sometimes cannot be detected via quick tests and their effects become unpredictable.

Since last year, the ministry has been working with the agency to identify drug abuse suspects aged 18 to 24, it said, adding that if the suspect is a student, police would report the case to their school.

Agency statistics showed that 947 children and teenagers were found to have abused drugs in 2016 — 581 high-school students, 361 junior-high students and five elementary-school students.

The number dropped to 762 last year — 98 high-school students, 260 junior-high students and four elementary-school students, the statistics showed.

The number has reached 81 so far this year — 50 high-school students, 30 junior-high students and one elementary-school student, they showed.

As the summer break approaches, illegal drug use is expected to increase, the ministry said.

The ministry would prioritize the training of educators who can teach children about drugs as it promotes a series of anti-drug abuse programs, K-12 Education Administration Director-General Chiu Chien-kuo (邱乾國) said yesterday.

The ministry last year organized a series of events on campuses to raise awareness of drug abuse, where pharmacists, prosecutors and other experts shared tips with students on how to identify drugs disguised as food or beverages, and how to protect themselves from drugs, he said, adding that 67,000 teachers and more than 494,000 students attended the events.

The ministry has also recruited parents to serve as volunteers to help raise awareness of drug abuse, and has advised parents to contact their child’s school as soon as they notice changes in the child’s behavior that might be linked to drug use, the ministry said.

In related news, the agency has released a video to educate the public about the story behind the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is today, as well as ways to identify drugs disguised as food and beverages.

The Taichung Police Department on Friday also released a video on its Facebook page to raise awareness of drug abuse, and called on members of the public to watch the video and leave a comment by the end of today.

The department is to hold a draw and give out a FIFA World Cup soccer ball and other gifts to netizens who have followed the instructions.

Additional reporting by Hsu Kuo-chen

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