Published: 04 November 2015
Mr Desmond Lee, Chairman of the National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabiliation, and Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs,
A/P Faishal, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining me this morning as we launch the Preventive Drug Education toolkit for educators and counsellors.
Drug Situation Among Youths
2. This toolkit was one of the key recommendations of the Task Force on Youths and Drugs, which completed its report a few months ago.
3. The Taskforce was convened because there were some worrying drug trends among youths. First, there are more young drug abusers aged below 30 who have been arrested in recent years. In 2014, 1,110 young abusers were arrested, compared to 826 in 2010. This is a 34% increase. Second, new drug abusers arrested are generally younger. The proportion of new abusers arrested who are aged below 30 has risen from about half in 2010 to two-thirds in 2014. Third, the profile of young abusers has changed. We are beginning to arrest young drug abusers who are doing well in their studies and who come from middle-class families. This is not a segment of the youth population that typically consumes drugs. Many youths of this profile are cannabis abusers. They abuse cannabis because of the misperception that it is not addictive or harmful. Fourth, clusters of young cannabis abusers are emerging. A cluster develops when one young person takes cannabis. He then introduces it to his friends, who in turn introduce it to their friends. This creates a multiplier effect.
4. These trends remind us that we must continue with our efforts to tackle the drug scourge decisively. We must focus on upstream preventive drug education efforts and educate our young that drugs cause harm. There is no such thing as a "soft" drug. Our young people should stay clear of drugs. This is our first and most important line of defence against drugs.
A Toolkit for Educators and Counsellors
5. To do this, we need to reach out not only to our youths, but also to those who are critical in shaping their lives and their values. This is why the Central Narcotics Bureau or CNB has, with the help of MOE, developed a preventive drug education toolkit for educators and counsellors.
6. The toolkit will help in two ways. First, it contains useful information about the drug situation in Singapore – what the common illicit drugs are, what our laws state about drug abuse, and what rehabilitation programmes are available for young drug abusers.
7. Second, the toolkit provides tips to recognise warning signs of a potential drug problem, and who educators and counsellors should call to seek help from. There are also suggested lesson plans and activities to help youths understand why drugs are harmful and how they can stay away from drugs.
8. CNB will be distributing this toolkit to schools and tertiary institutions by Jan 2016. I hope that you will find this toolkit useful in your interactions with your students. We are also developing a similar toolkit for parents, which will be launched by the middle of next year.
Everyone has a part to play
9. Ladies and Gentlemen, our fight against drugs requires a whole-of-society effort. Everyone has a part to play. As educators and youth counsellors, you are our major touch-points with our youths and play a significant role in advancing our anti-drug cause.
10. Your continued support has been and will continue to be crucial in our anti-drug efforts. I hope that you will continue to work closely with us to protect our youths from drugs. Together, we can keep Singapore drug-free.
11. Thank you.