While a large majority of youths view drugs as illegal and addictive substances, older youths tend to hold more liberal views on drug use, survey findings released on Thursday show.
The findings, released by the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) based on a survey of 2,075 youths conducted last year, also show that nearly 60 per cent of those polled said their parents have never spoken to them about drugs and drug abuse.
This finding troubles NCADA, an advisory council to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which hopes to correct this through greater outreach efforts.
Of the remaining 40 per cent, more than 9 in 10 of them were deterred from taking drugs after their parents broached the topic.
The survey was the first by the council to cover youths aged 13 to 21 from secondary schools to junior colleges, polytechnics and the Institutes of Technical Education.
Youths generally perceive drugs and their use negatively, with some 40 per cent of them comparing them to an illegal substance. Another quarter said that they can be "addictive". But school leavers were about five times as likely to associate drugs with a substance to "get high" or as a "fun thing" (22.2%), compared to their peers who are still studying (about 4.5%), which the council highlighted as another area of concern.
At a press conference, the council said it hopes to use the survey findings for its drug prevention efforts targeting these youth segments.
"NCADA wants to be evidence-based, and to look at programs that will be more effective and a lot more targeted," said Mr Victor Lye, NCADA chairman.
"We've had a good situation in terms of the general anti-drug drive, but we must now drill-down and do a little bit more to ensure that even if we can prevent one more person from falling to this drug menace, we must try."