Some harmless-looking pills with smiley faces inscribed on them were among some of the drugs displayed in the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Gallery.
Little would anyone think that these colourful candy-lookalikes on display were drugs, more specifically, ecstasy pills, which have dire effects once one gets hooked on them.
Some 25 children between the ages of 10 to 12 from the Sengkang branch of Life Community Services Society (LCSS) visited the CNB gallery with some volunteers from the Ministry of Home Affairs Headquarters (MHQ) on 8 June 2012.
Life Community Services Society is a Christian-based registered charitable organisation and a member of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).
Children from the LCSS are under-privileged and generally come from lower income families; some of their parents may also have been imprisoned.
Previously, the children had visited other Home Team Departments (HTDs) like the K9 unit and the Central Fire Station.
During this visit to the CNB gallery, each MHQ volunteer had up to two children in tow throughout the entire visit, giving them ample chance to interact with one another and lend each other their company.
This volunteering programme called ‘One Heart’ is organised by the International & Corporate Relations Divisions (ICRD) with support from the MHQ One Heart Secretariat.
As a kick-start to the visit, an ice-breaking session was held to settle the children and volunteers in and get them ready for the day's programme.
|One of the icebreaking games involved piecing a jigsaw puzzle with the verbal guidance of the children's peers and volunteers while blindfolded. PHOTO: Shahidah Sayadi|
Unlike in outreach initiatives like the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign, a slightly different approach was adopted by the CNB department to spread the anti-drug message more effectively to this younger age group, without altering the severity of the message.
One of the well-imbibed messages driven across was how a drug addict would stop at nothing to get his next supply of drugs, without even thinking twice about committing theft and murder to do so.
“Your entire life is about getting the next drug,” said one of the CNB officers, whose name has to remain confidential.
This message was also clearly echoed in the short animated clip shown during the visit.
In it, the antagonists ‘recruiting’ drug addicts and traffickers and the one who has recruited the most would be rewarded accordingly.
Injected with humour, this video not only made the children chuckle, but also taught them a lesson or two; the main one, of course, is to stay away from drugs.
|Taking one last group photograph before going their separate ways after the visit. PHOTO: Shahidah Sayadi|
Some drugs were hidden in the hollow area of a pair of platform shoes while some were packaged and disguised to pass off as an authentic instant coffee sachet.The CNB officers also shared some of the operations that they have been involved, which included stories of the many ingenious ways traffickers tried hiding their unlawful goods.
The children also had a go at a mock raid in the gallery.
In the game, they had to conduct a unit raid as junior CNB officers.
They uncovered unlawful items such as the marijuana plant, used syringes that inject illicit drugs, as well as suspicious-looking pills and powder.
The concept was designed and set in a context much like that of a typical shoot-out arcade game.
The kids looked inquisitively at some of the drugs displayed in the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Gallery.
Towards the end of the visit, a closing quiz was held to test the children on all that they had learnt during the visit.
One of the participants, Pei Sha, 10, managed to name the two withdrawal symptoms of taking drugs—loss of concentration and deterioration in school performance—and was elated to win herself a back-to-school stationery pack.
The CNB officers emphasised the need for young children as young as 9 years old to know the dangers of drugs as children of this age group are the most susceptible to peer influences.
The officers reiterated that some of these drug addicts start small, with something like glue sniffing, but their addiction may evolve into bigger, deadlier forms of substance abuse and also larger offences if they are not corrected from young.