Now I'm thinking about my future, says teen probationer caught for drug offences

Sara (not her real name) was introduced to drugs by her friends a few years ago and took them as a way to have fun and relieve stress.
Sara (not her real name) was introduced to drugs by her friends a few years ago and took them as a way to have fun and relieve stress.PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Sara, 19, regrets her drug-abusing past that, in her own words, made her a very useless person.

"My friends were busy studying or working, but I was busy taking drugs and downgrading myself," she said.

The N-level graduate was introduced to drugs by her friends a few years ago and took them as a way to have fun and relieve stress.

Sara (not her real name) became hooked and it strained her relationship with her father, a taxi driver, and mother, a housewife. She is the youngest of five children.

She was arrested and placed on a 15-month probation in 2020.

Hers was among the 428 new probation orders issued last year, according to the Probation and Community Rehabilitation Service 2020 annual report released on Friday (June 4).

Probation is a community rehabilitation sentence ordered by the courts that requires the offender to be supervised by a probation officer for a period ranging from six months to three years.

For Sara, being placed on probation - she is serving it at home - was a major turning point. She has to attend rehabilitative programmes and do community service by teaching seniors how to use smartphones and apps, among other requirements of the probation order.

She said: "Being on probation has helped me to be a better person and to be more independent. I have learnt how to better handle my emotions and mix with friends who will help me do well in life - and not commit offences."

In her probation officer, she found someone who understands her and who can guide her. Through their sessions, she has also learnt to communicate with her parents and understand their perspectives, improving their relationship. Her parents are also involved in her rehabilitation process.

Sara, who is now working as a store manager, said: "Last time, I have no one to share my problems with. So I just went with the flow.

"Now I'm thinking of my future."