A series of cases involving narcotics and schools have been uncovered in Taiwan, arousing public concern and a need to address the issue.
Recent cases included a school drug trafficking gang in Hsinchu. Also, Taiwan police authorities uncovered a gang controlling female students with drugs and using the girls for prostitution. Finally, in Miaoli, a gang recruited students for drug trafficking.
According to Taiwan's education authorities, students taking drugs have increased sharply in the past six years from 231 cases in 2006 to 1,810 in 2011.
Students in vocational high schools have the highest positive rate of urine-based screening. Narcotics listed in category 3 are the most common drugs being taken by students, as 1,548 cases out of the total 1,810 were in this classification.
Narcotics are divided into four categories by Taiwan authorities. The first includes heroin and morphine, the second includes amphetamine and ecstasy. Phencyclidine and Nimetazepam belong to the third category, and codeine and Zolpidem the fourth.
Phencyclidine is viewed by students as entry-level drugs. It can lead to hallucinations after being taken. It is often used in pubs, birthday parties and other events.
Physians said although its not as addictive as heroin, it can severely damage urinary system and renal function.
Particular concern is that students taking drugs are becoming younger. The youngest drug taker that Taiwan police authorities found in the first half of 2012 is below the age of 12.
Statistics from Taiwan's judicial authorities show that police have uncovered more than 37,000 cases involving narcotics and arrested more than40,000 suspects, 1,112 of them are students.
Therefore, Taiwan's media and the public are deeply worried about the situation. They have urged the police to strengthen their efforts to crack down on crimes involving narcotics and safeguard schoolyards.
One of the reasons for the increasing numbers in drug taking is that Taiwan's schools have paid more attention to the issue and strengthened urine-based screenings.
But according to regulations in Taiwan, people taking drugs listed in the category 3 and 4 can only be fined instead of criminal penalties.
Suspects holding more than 20 grams of drugs in category 3 and 4 can be sentenced to a criminal penalty. Taiwan's public have called for increased punishments so schoolyards will be free of narcotics.
Representatives of public opinions suggested judicial authorities list phencyclidine in category 2, increase the punishment, and at the same time strengthen inspection for narcotics in schools.
However, an official from the island's education authorities said earlier last week that it is impossible to impose compulsory urine-based screening for all students.
The official said it will cost a lot and phencyclidine can be metabolized in one or two days after being taken, therefore it is difficult to be found by screening.