The Korea Herald


Drug prevention program to target elementary schoolers

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Jan. 30, 2024 - 14:16

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A new drug prevention education program for elementary school students aimed at raising awareness of the harmful effects of substance abuse is underway, as South Korea sees a continued rise in adolescent drug use, according to the National Center for Mental Health on Tuesday.

This marks the first time the government has come up with a drug education program targeting children in the early stages of development with mental health professionals so that interventions in early childhood can help them understand the perils of substance abuse.

The unit under the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it posted an emergency announcement on its website last week to recruit a research team dedicated to developing information on the risks associated with drug use and the negative consequences of drug-related behaviors tailored for elementary school students.

“After selecting the institution to work with, we will develop the program (with the organization) in terms of what kind of education content we need that could stave off the onset of substance use,” an official at the NCMH told The Korea Herald.

“We’re in the early stage, so it’s hard for us to say if we’re going to team up with the Education Ministry or other related agencies,” the official added, declining to comment further.

Currently, elementary, middle and high school students in Korea receive the same drug prevention education through videos, usually less than an hour long, designed to create awareness and encourage students to “just say no” to drugs, without context on the effects of drugs on the human body or how illegal substances are taken.

Meanwhile, South Korea caught a record-high 22,393 people suspected of drug offenses from January to October last year, according to the latest data released in December by the special investigation unit on drug crimes. People in their teens and 20s accounted for the largest portion, at 34.6 percent of the total.