Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Importance of Emotional Competence in Designing an Antidrug Education Curriculum for Junior Secondary School Students in Hong Kong

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Importance of Emotional Competence in Designing an Antidrug Education Curriculum for Junior Secondary School Students in Hong Kong

Article excerpt

Introduction

Adolescent substance abuse is a serious problem in Hong Kong. From 2006 to 2009, the percentage of drug abusers under the age of 21 among all reported cases has increased from 19% to 24% (1). Many factors contribute to the problem (2), and the ecological model is a widely adopted approach to understand this problem (3). On the individual level, curiosity, lack of psychosocial competencies and coping skills, as well as feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and lack of purpose are the factors related to adolescent drug abuse. On the interpersonal level, undesirable peer influence is the most significant factor. On the school level, underachievement, undesirable after-school activities, and non-engagement are the critical factors. On the family level, marital disruption, cross-border working parents or marriages, and loose parental supervision are some of the possible factors. The factors on the societal level include the growing culture of addiction, easy access to drugs, growing pessimistic values about upward social mobility. All these factors interact with each other and contribute to the prevalence of adolescent substance abuse in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is well aware of the youth drug problems. In his 2007 Policy Address, the Chief Executive of the Government proposed the formation of a high-level interdepartmental task force to address the problem (4). In 2008 (5), the Chief Executive set out directions to tackle the problem and used the following paragraph in the Policy Address for this issue:

"Over the past year, the Task Force led by the Secretary for Justice has been working in full swing to map out strategies to combat the youth drug abuse problem. The Task Force has worked closely with anti-crime and anti-drug networks, solicited views from stakeholders, and enhanced collaboration among government departments, NGOs, and the community for the anti-drug cause. A series of short to medium-term measures, which are being implemented, cover preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, law enforcement, and research. A two-year territory-wide anti-drug campaign and the "Path Builders" initiative have been launched to foster a drug-free youth culture, and to mobilise the whole community to provide assistance to our young people at different levels and through innovative ways. The Task Force will shortly publish a report on holistic and sustainable policies and measures for the long term." (Paragraph 79).

School drug testings have been initiated based on the abovementioned policy (6). In 2010, the Chief Executive planned to enhance the manpower support for social-work service in secondary schools so that the drug problems can be tackled (7). There are three tiers of anti-drug education in Hong Kong (8). The first tier is focused on students in general, the aims of which are to enhance their knowledge towards the consequence of drug abuse and increase their ability to resist the temptation of taking drugs. Included in the first tier are school-based programs and activities provided by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The second tier is aimed at high-risk students, including those who have taken drugs but are not yet dependent on them. Community experts are mobilized to provide counseling so that these high-risk students would be drug-free. The third tier is concerned with students who are already drug dependent. The focus of the treatment is guiding them to undergo rehabilitation so that they can grow in a safe environment. All secondary schools have to provide Tier-One anti-drug education to adolescent students. Owing to the active involvement of the Education Bureau and the increase in school social-work manpower, secondary schools are considered as the most important sites for the commencement of anti-drug education instead of the traditional community resources, such as police, NGOs, and medical organizations.

Although we adopted an ecological perspective to understand adolescent substance abuse, the targets of Tier-One anti-drug education are the students in general. …

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