Raising Awareness

Raising awareness of the dangers of new drugs should be an issue we can all agree is necessary.

Parents and grandparents often have imperfect information about drugs, particularly the new ones. So it is only reasonable for them to expect the country’s children to get an adequate level of information about drugs at school.

So it may surprise you to learn that drugs education is not even a mandatory subject. It is entirely up to individual schools how much resource they invest in teaching young people about the dangers of drugs. We know that 60% schools teach ONE hour or less per year and of those who have lessons 70% cannot recall the content. When it is taught, its efficacy is not measured. We have been lobbying Government hard on this issue, click here to view Maryon Stewart’s evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in February 2012.

Some of the simplest lessons about drugs can literally mean the difference between life and death, for example GBL should never be taken with any alcohol. These lessons are not simply vital for themselves and their own well-being; each young person can also learn about looking out for danger signs which could save a friend’s life.

The figures show this has barely any priority. The UK annual reports to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reveal that public expenditure on drugs classified as ‘education’ decreased from £3.9 million in 2009/10 and to £0.5 million in 2010/11.

The former Children’s Minister, Nick Gibb, told Angelus, that drugs education, “is an important issue which, if not addressed effectively, can have significant consequences, for individuals and society.” But it was clear they did not intend to take an active measures and added schools should, “organise themselves as they see fit.” Angelus believes the stakes are too high with our children’s well-being to take such a passive view.

Young people have never been more vulnerable and endangered; this simply cannot be left to chance. We continue to lobby Ministers and Shadow Ministers on the need to invest in drug education for the sake of all our children.