China’s drug ed­u­ca­tion works

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Wu Fan

China and Canada tend to give off com­pletely op­po­site vibes when talked about in an in­ter­na­tional set­ting, but what about ed­u­ca­tors’ views on drug use and drug abuse?

In On­tario, Canada, ed­u­ca­tion on drug use and abuse is done in phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion classes – these are typ­i­cally done over two or three classes and in­volve watch­ing videos, Q&A ses­sions and writ­ten tests. The classes are geared to­ward teach­ing stu­dents about all kinds of drugs in­clud­ing psy­choac­tive drugs – il­licit and le­gal drugs. More­over, the classes tend to be rather neu­tral and fact-fo­cused. The teacher will dis­cuss the ef­fects of all types of drugs, the laws re­gard­ing il­licit drug use and some statis­tics. There is train­ing in place for stu­dents on re­fus­ing drugs as well.

Yet, the fact is, most schools still have a large num­ber of drug, al­co­hol and to­bacco abusers, and so­ci­ety is very tol­er­ant of drug use. It is not un­com­mon to find at least a few drug deal­ers in a high school in down­town Toronto. Stu­dents will smoke and drink in front of school doors with­out penalty from teach­ers or ad­min­is­tra­tive staff. Safe in­jec­tion cen­ters are not an un­com­mon sight in Van­cou­ver and more have been ap­proved for con­struc­tion in Toronto. Canada’s Cen­tre for Ad­dic­tion and Men­tal Health states, “It is es­ti­mated that four out of ev­ery 10 peo­ple in On­tario have or have had a fam­ily mem­ber or a friend who has ex­pe­ri­enced a prob­lem re­lated to sub­stance use.” Canada.ca, a web­site that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on Cana­dian gov­ern­ment agen­cies, has also in­di­cated that over 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion has used il­licit drugs in their life­time.

China has long had a rep­u­ta­tion of strict poli­cies on il­licit drugs. In terms of teach­ing stu­dents about drug abuse, a sur­vey revealed sev­eral meth­ods of how this is done. Pam­phlets on the harm­ful ef­fects of drugs on the body, mind and so­ci­ety are dis­trib­uted to stu­dents in schools. Po­lice visit classes and give speeches to bring more aware­ness to drug abuse, as well as real-life cases of drug users and drug deal­ers. Me­dia also plays a key role in the anti-drug cam­paign. News pro­grams will of­ten show the harm­ful phys­i­cal and men­tal ef­fects of drugs on peo­ple, and more im­por­tantly, how one drug user can de­stroy an en­tire fam­ily, or even a com­mu­nity, due to the im­mense amount of money re­quired to buy drugs – lead­ing to end­less money-bor­row­ing or even co­erc­ing oth­ers to be­come ad­dicts to fund the drug user’s fi­nan­cial needs. The side ef­fects also de­bil­i­tate drug users from be­ing able to func­tion ef­fec­tively as work­ers and fam­ily mem­bers. Films and other me­dia also por­tray anti-drug po­lice as heroes and mar­tyrs in the war on drugs.

Do these tac­tics work in China? Based on re­search from the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, an Amer­i­can re­search group, there are 2.5 mil­lion reg­is­tered drug users in China, which is 0.18 per­cent of China’s pop­u­la­tion. Even if the num­ber was un­der­es­ti­mated, com­pared with Canada’s 40 per­cent or more, we can safely say that in the case of il­licit drug use, China holds a place of clean­li­ness over Canada.

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