My response to David Oliver on Home Office blog – Drug Education

The Home Office have been piloting a blog asking for comments on the new Drug Strategy.

David Oliver has asked for comments on drug education and I have posted my own response which has now actually been published on it. The link is here http://drugstrategyblog.homeoffice.gov.uk/?p=5 or you can read my comments below…..

Stacey Smith said

March 15 2011 10.20

I have been involved in delivering both drug education and treatment to young people over the last eleven years. The main points I wish to share are as follows:

Inconsistency

Without a statutory framework I see it as an injustice to our young people that they aren’t given consistent approaches to something that could affect their lives so adversely. This is more difficult when the messages we receive generally in society are also so inconsistent and confusing. E.g Take this pill to change how you’re feeling but not that one, these drugs are bad and they’re illegal, some of these drugs are worse but they are legal. I’ve seen teachers giving completely biased and inaccurate information which discredits any actual messages that are delivered thereafter.

Drug education needs to be delivered and linked tightly with emotional literacy and lifeskills as within the SEAL approach. If young people are better supported with their emotional health then this decreases the risk factors associated with drugs including alcohol.

Willingness and competency

Whilst some teachers are very competent, the majority either do not want to deliver what they feel to be a difficult taboo subject or they have limited time and training opportunities to do so. We wouldn’t put an untrained Maths teacher in front of a class so why are we allowing teachers to deliver a subject they know nothing about?

Credibility

As well as for mainstream pupils but in particularly for those considered ’disaffected’ or ’vulnerable’ the information given by a teacher is not going to be absorbed (if they are there!) It is not going to be real to them.

I also believe there is a lot more value in informal drug education within youth settings and giving parents more access to attend sessions about drugs including alcohol.

Lack of targetted information

The generic FRANK campaign is not targetting the most vulnerable young people. Telling a 16 year old that Cannabis makes you sick when he has been smoking it since he was 12 isn’t helpful. There is great literature being produced out there (Lifeline, HIT) but often the agencies I work with would not have the funding to be able to purchase them.

A combination of teacher training, outside speakers, parents and most importantly a statutory framework for ALL schools would help.

Let’s give our future generations a better chance to succeed by crediting them with honest information and support.

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Posted on March 15, 2011, in Alcohol, Cannabis, Drugs and Alcohol, Inspire Health and Mind, Media, Post A Day 2011 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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