Published: 13 September 2021
Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what is being done to reduce the number of first-time drug abusers especially those under 30 years old.
1. Preventive drug education (PDE) is the first line of defence in the Central Narcotics Bureau’s (CNB) drug control approach. Through its PDE initiatives, CNB aims to increase public awareness of the harms of drugs and encourage the adoption of a drug-free lifestyle.
2. To inoculate youths specifically, CNB works closely with MOE to incorporate PDE contents into the school syllabus. CNB also engages students through talks, sharing sessions, exhibitions, skits and the After-School Engagement (ASE) programme. In 2020, in spite of the COVID-19 situation, 66% of primary and secondary schools participated in at least one PDE programme.
3. For post-secondary youths, CNB fosters a participatory process through co-creating projects with the students. Through this, youths are encouraged to think about the long-term impact of drug abuse, and advocate against a drug-tolerant culture from taking root in Singapore. For example, in July 2021, ‘Monomania’ was launched on the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) campus. This was a collaborative project between SP students and CNB to deliver the anti-drug message through an exhibition using projection mapping technology, to provide an immersive audio-visual experience showing the effects of drugs on the body.
4. CNB works with the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force to engage full-time national servicemen (NSFs). For instance, PDE toolkits and message cards with bite-sized information are provided to NS commanders so that they can engage NSFs under their charge on drug issues.
5. Social media is another key engagement channel. In May 2021, CNB released the ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ video, which illustrates the calculated business motivations of drug dealers and how drugs abusers are mere ‘revenue streams’. The video has garnered more than 200,000 views thus far.
6. One of CNB’s key partners is the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA). CNB and NCADA engage community partners and volunteers through the United Against Drugs Coalition (UADC) and Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy Network, or A3 Network. The UADC rallies support from local organisations to raise awareness of drug abuse in our society, while the A3 Network brings together individuals from different walks of life to educate and empower them to advocate for a drug-free Singapore. As of August 2021, CNB has 1,108 A3 advocates, out of which 237 are youths, and 73 partner organisations under the UADC.
7. In addition to PDE efforts, MHA constantly reviews its laws to ensure that they remain effective. In 2019, amendments were made to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) to criminalise acts of contamination which facilitate or promote drug abuse, as well as to better protect children and young persons from the harms of drugs.