Tuesday, December 04, 2007

No child left untested

Here's a headline I found tonight, though in the KINDS database, it was missing the last word. I assure you it's not "teachers".
Mandatory Drug Test Will Be Conducted for Primary, Secondary School[...]

Starting next year, students will be subject to drug tests at schools under a government measure to fight increasing drug and other chemical abuses among youths, the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday.Under the "Anti-Drug Abuse Program," elementary, middle and high schools will conduct a "dope test" to determine whether students use hallucinogens, including butane gas and chemical glue. With the relatively stricter control on conventional drugs, youths in the nation are commonly using butane gas or chemical glues to be intoxicated.

The dope test involving urine samples will be administered to all of those aged 10 and above. Currently, schools only conduct physical fitness examinations once a year without any blood or urine checks. The Education and Health-Social Welfare Ministries will chart out a detailed program by next month to implement the urine drug tests. They will be conducted at schools in six major cities, next year, on a trial basis. The government will also set up a "Rehabilitation Center for Drug Addicts" in metropolitan areas to exclusively help youngsters get over their deadly habit.

Starting in 1997, every school in the nation will open anti-drug and health awareness courses jointly with civic groups such as pharmacists in respective communities, the PM's Office said. The Health-Social Welfare Ministry is considering lacing butane gas with a reeking odor that would repel students, as well as placing warnings on glue and gas containers.
I swear this is not satire. It's a Korea Times article from October 20, 1995. I can't help but remember the Gregory Henderson quote, "In the non-socialist world, I have so far sensed nothing comparable to the South Korean shadowing of the private by the public sphere."

Seriously though, do you think they were overreacting just a little? I guess the next time the police raid a bar in Itaewon and piss-test everyone in it, those who may want to complain can just think of this article, and remember that they wanted to piss test every child over the age of ten. The mind boggles. Here's a bit from an article a week later:
Teenagers' Drug Prevention Centers to Be Established in 7 Cities by 2000

A prevention center designed to awaken minors to the danger of drug abuse and to counsel drug users will be opened in big cities by the year 2000.The Health-Welfare Ministry has come up with the plan to fight increasing drug and chemical abuse among youths.

In an initial step, the ministry will intensify the programs at existing counselling offices dealing with drug abuse. These offices run by the Korea Headquarters for Anti-Drug Campaigning are in Seoul, Pusan, Inchon, Chonju, Chunchon, Wonju and Kangnung. Drug addiction among youths accounts for three in every four cases of substance abuse, according to the tally compiled by the headquarters.

Director general Lee Kyong-ho of the ministry's pharmaceutical bureau said, "Teenagers' drug taking has reached the point of zero tolerance and misdemeanors committed by drug-taking teenagers have emerged as a serious social problem." "Teenagers need to be properly educated on the hazards from drug abuse to protect themselves," he said.
An article from July 9, 1997, made it seem as if the kids weren't getting the message:
Nearly 8 Percent of Korean Teens Regard Drug Use as Innocuous

Nearly 8 percent of Korean middle and high school students believe the use of hallucinogenic drugs is innocuous, and a portion of them have used marijuana and methamphetamines, according to a study by the Korean Anti-Drug Campaign Center released yesterday.The study also reported that 4.5 percent say they would experiment with such substances if given the opportunity. Another 3.5 percent claim that they have gotten high on hallucinogens before.

Hallucinogenic substances favored by these young drug users include inhalants like butane gas and marijuana (3.5 percent), pain killers (1.5 percent), stimulants like methamphetamines (0.8 percent) and depressants (0.7 percent).
Notice the lack of any mention of the drug testing. The statistics from this March 21, 2000 article are interesting:
Drug Offenders in 30s, 40s Soar Amid Wide Income Gap

According to the 1999 Narcotics White Paper released by the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office yesterday, a total of 10,589 people were charged with narcotics offenses last year, a 26.8 percent increase from 8,350 in 1998.

The paper showed that the number of drug offenders in their teens and 20s has fallen since 1995, whereas the number of those in their 30s and 40s has soared.
Drug offenders in their 30s jumped from 1,884 in 1995 to 3,270 in 1998 and 4,260 last year, nearly a twofold increase during the five-year period. Those in their 40s also soared from 836 in 1995 to 1,667 in 1998 and 2,466 last year, a threefold rise.
As a result, drug offenders in their 30s and 40s accounted for 40.2 and 23.3 percent of the total, respectively, compared with 19.2 percent in their 20s and 0.5 percent in their teens.

The sharp rise in the number of drug offenders in their 30s and 40s was attributed largely to widening income disparities between the rich and poor, especially after the country suffered an unprecedented economic crisis in late 1997.
Notice those percentages add up to about 83%. At any rate, it seems to say that the teen numbers had dropped from "God save us! It's like the Imjin Waeran out there!" levels to a mere 0.5% of those arrested - if you believe those numbers lacking 17% above. If I had to guess the drug testing idea died a quiet death when the government realised that implementing it was far beyond its capacity.

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