The Nation, September 10, 2001
Wayward teens worry Youth Bureau
The findings of several surveys and studies - including one by Sri Pathum university dean Seri Wongmonta - that young people are becoming increasingly interested in drugs and sex, has prompted the Youth Bureau to explore new measures to "regulate society".
According to a report by Seri, it seems that teenage promiscuity and drug use are on the rise. The report said that young people were also wearing inappropriate clothing, indulging in unsafe sex, spending frivolously and using the Internet inappropriately.
In response to these trends, the Youth Bureau will host a conference at the end of the month to discuss how to better regulate the country's youth. The conference will be attended by representatives of both the public and private sectors, with more than 100 organisations joining in the discussions.
Meanwhile, an Abac poll of students said that those living in dorms had a higher susceptibility to drugs and sex. Another study indicated that teenagers aged between 15 and 19 were the most likely to indulge in such activities.
Of a total sample of 2,798 res-pondents, the study found that those living with parents were more in touch with the traditional culture of Thailand and as a result were less likely to have sex. It found that 34.6 per cent of those in student accommodation were sexually active, compared to only 11.7 per cent among those living at home.
According to the survey, the main factor that led to teenagers having sex was proximity. The other triggers were said to be movies, pornography, alcohol and drugs.
Worryingly, 32.9 per cent of the respondents who were sexually active said they never used condoms and 27.6 rarely used them, while only 21.9 regularly used them.
In a related development, a six-year study of the drug problem and a three-year study of youth nightlife indicated that those aged 15 to 19 often got involved in dangerous activities just for "fun".
"Young people aged between 15 and 19 who go out at night say that they cannot control themselves and use drugs for fun," said Dr Varunee Fongkaew of Chiang Mai Univer-sity's Faculty of Nursing.
"I have often asked for help from the entertainment complexes, but never received any cooperation. If we seriously want to protect our youth from drugs, state policies must be strict - for that is central to solving the problem," said Varunee.