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More Asian Drug Users in Queens Schools
From The World Journal
February 6, 2003

A recent finding by the Asian Mental Health Program at the Queens Children's Psychiatric Center showed that, in 35 elementary and middle schools in Queens, more Asian students have used drugs, including marijuana and that the number is on the rise. 

Among them, 9th graders seem to be the group at the highest risk of drug use.  Several Chinese social-workers at the center called on Chinese parents to pay attention not only to their children's schoolwork but also their behavior at home.

Chai-suei Lin, a senior social worker at the center, said most Chinese parents put a lot of emphasis on the children's studies, but would tend to lose focus once their children make it into good middle or high schools.  Lin said that school-aged children go into a "rebellious stage" of their lives between 12 and 17 when they start to get curious about new and exciting things and may go astray if neglected by their parents.

Chih-Chie Ho, another social worker, said although the rate of drug abuse among Asian students is far lower than other ethnic groups, there has been a sharp increase in recent years.  He added that new immigrant families should pay extra attention to their children.

According to Ho, among the cases they receive, it is more common to see Chinese students between the ages of 13 and 19 smoking marijuana, especially among 9th graders.  A survey by Partnership for a Drug Free America showed that marijuana is the most popular drug among teenagers and that 41 percent of teenagers said they had smoked marijuana before.

However, Ho added that many Chinese parents feel ashamed upon finding out that their children smoked marijuana because they consider it "the family's dirty laundry".  They would not seek help and would only do so when things get out of hand.

Ho suggested that Chinese parents take precautions and take immediate action as soon as they find any unusual behavior from their children.

According to Ho, a first-time marijuana smoker would feel relaxed and slow but in high spirits. He or she would also tend to be talkative, laugh easily, and less likely to withhold feelings. These effects are especially attractive to new immigrant students because it helps them to gain self-confidence within a short period of time.  

In the long run, smoking marijuana may cause depression, suspiciousness, nervousness, quick temper, hormone disorder, bronchitis, and conjunctivitis.   

According to an annual report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which polled 43,000 students in 394 high schools across the United States, 25.5 percent of the 8th graders had tried drugs and 19.2 percent had smoked marijuana.  Among 10th graders, 44.6 percent used drugs and 38.7 percent smoked marijuana.  53.3 percent of the 12th graders polled had tried drugs and 47.8 percent smoked marijuana.

For assistance in Madarin and Cantonese, parents can call (718) 899-9810 ext 206.

Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung.

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