China’s drug education works
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.