The first tryst with drugs for children usually begins in their adolescence period. They perceive experimenting with tobacco, smoking and alcohol as thrilling or daring, or engage in it to “fit in” to their peer groups at school. This is why schools play an important role in educating students about the harmful effects of drugs, encouraging them to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
The Government of UK released a report in 2012 that highlighted the role of schools in promoting pupil’s wellbeing. The Department for Education and the Association of Chief Police Officers, now the National Police Chiefs Council, produced data that can help answer some of the most common questions raised by schools in relation to drugs. Giving more insight into what can be defined as drugs, the document indicated that alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, new psychoactive substances and volatile substances should be confiscated in school premises.
To support schools in preventing the use of drugs on school premises, the UK Government’s Drug Strategy 2010 stated that the school staff must have the information, advice and power to:
- Provide students with accurate information on drugs and alcohol through education and targeted information.
- Identify problem behavior in schools and learn to tackle them.
- Seek help from other local voluntary organisations, health partners, the police and others to prevent drug/alcohol misuse.
Creating safe and drug-free school zones
- Every school must have a drug policy in place that clearly illustrates their role and views in relation to all drug matters, and ensures that it’s consistent with the school’s safeguarding policy. The policy must include the management of drugs and medicines within school boundaries and during school excursions.
- Assign the responsibility of organising and managing the drug policy to a senior member of staff within the school.
- Before you develop a drug policy, consult the whole school community including students, parents/carers, staff, governors and partner agencies.
- Although most schools are a smoke-free site, keep the children, staff, parents and the governors involved in the development and implementation of a smoke-free site.
- The policy must also include a statutory warning that states: illegal and other unauthorised drugs are not acceptable within the school boundaries.
What do the statistics tell us?
An article published in the DailyMail exposed shocking facts about how young people (as young as 11) in the UK are beginning to get addicted to drugs. There are probably 400,000 under-16s that are now regularly taking drugs. The survey was conducted among 18,000 pupils at 67 schools. Another finding that startled many people in the UK was that – many teenagers now consider ‘drugs’ as an integral part of their music and dance culture and an automatic norm of growing up.
“The dramatic increase in usage of drugs at the ages of 13 and 14 is a central feature of substance abuse and preventative work could usefully be focused on the years preceding these age groups. These findings are a cause for concern,” admitted Researcher Jeremy Gluck.
He also added that fewer than half the children who admitted using drugs were regarded as having “high self-esteem”, but nearly one in six of the users were recorded as having “low self-esteem.”
Whilst Mary Brett from the National Drug Prevention Alliance emphasised the importance of telling our children the truth about drugs – “cannabis is not harmless but a gateway drug that does lead on to other and worse drugs.”
Brett added, “children should not just be told to say no. They should be told why – how drugs affect not just your body, but your social and economic future.”
But, where are they getting the drugs from?
With the advent of the internet, many young people use their laptops and mobile phones for chatting, socialising or playing games. But did you know, digital peer pressure and online drug marketing could encourage your students to experiment with drugs?
The Global Drug Survey has designed and published a graph chart that showed how many people bought drugs on the internet in 2014. It’s considered to be the biggest survey of drug use ever and was published in eight languages and promoted in 17 countries. – These included: USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, Slovenia and Brazil.
To safeguard your pupils online and monitor their digital footprints, connect with Securus to receive alerts on any misuse of your computer systems.