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New Taipei City urges drug testing in schools

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- New Taipei City Education Department Commissioner Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) proposed to administer drug tests as part of middle school students' nationwide health examinations.

During the second day of the National Education Department Commissioners Meeting (全國教育局處長會議), held by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Lin was quoted to have said that recent investigations have revealed an increase of drug use among middle school students.

The age of students that have had experiences with narcotics has also shown a decrease, revealing that younger students are introduced to drugs at younger ages. Peer pressure has been listed as the most common reason behind the decline in age, which is what reportedly prompted Lin to suggest the adding of drug tests to students' health checkups.

According to Lin, over a hundred schools in New Taipei City have already purchased and installed screening machines that detect whether a student has smoked cigarettes when they enter or leave school premises. The reason for the detectors is to identify students who are potentially at risk of experimenting with drugs, as students who smoke have a high chance of experiencing with ketamine.

MOE Disagrees with Proposed Drug Test as a Result of Obvious Loophole

Following Lin's proposal, Hsu Wen-chuan (許文娟), an executive official at MOE's Department of Student Affairs and Special Education, stated that Hsinchu County had previously tried to implement student urine screenings to no avail, as it was flagged by the Control Yuan due to human rights concerns.

Schools currently have the right to conduct random urine screenings of listed individuals with drug use histories, underage students who have returned to school after a hiatus, and school bus drivers, which is legal and protected under MOE policy, said Lin.

However, the policy could not be enforced in regards to regular students. School health checkups are also legally required to be announced to students and their parents in advance, Lin added, which is a loophole that is known to drug-using students so they refrain from using narcotics use for the 3 to 5 days it takes for the drugs to metabolize.

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