Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Truancy up despite fines for parents

The Telegraph notes the rise in the use of fixed penalty fines to punish parents not able to get their children to school don’t appear to be having the desired effect. They also suggest that more draconian measures aren’t working either:

Record numbers of parents have also been hauled before the courts for failing to curb wayward children, with prosecutions soaring from 986 to 3,713 between 2005 and 2007. But despite the hard line, the number of school days lost because of unauthorised absence over the same period soared by two million to 11.8 million.

The disclosure – in figures obtained by the Lib Dems after a parliamentary question – will raise fresh doubts over the Government’s anti-truancy strategy.

The DCSF are quoted saying that attendance at school is improving, and that truancy figures are worse because heads are not accepting “weak excuses”.

The NUT’s acting General Secretary is quoted on their website saying:

“The Government needs to draw the obvious lessons from the latest truancy figures. There are no magic solutions to tackling core truancy. Schools do their best to deal with persistent truancy but they cannot, on their own, address deep-rooted social problems which lead to truancy.”

Truancy is, of course, a risk factor for children and young people in relation to their drug use.

Smoking Drinking and Drug Use among Young People In England in 2006 found:

  • Pupils who had experience of exclusion from school or playing truant were more likely to smoke regularly;
  • Pupils who had truanted were almost twice as likely to have drunk alcohol in the last seven days; and
  • Truancy and exclusion from school were both strongly linked to recent drug use

UpdateThe Guardian say that the government are suggesting the rise can be traced back to an increased number of days children were sick.


Filed under: Truancy,

The American Star Comes To England

Mike Ashton in Drug and Alcohol Findings points out a report he wrote in 2003, which examines the research behind the Blueprint drug education research in England.

The paper concludes that the American findings weren’t as strong as might have been assumed.

a straight choice between whether features of the schools or of STAR accounted for the outcomes is too simplistic. It seems likely that STAR had its greatest impact in schools with an enthusiasm and flexibility to give life to the lessons, and that in these schools STAR provided the structure needed for these virtues to create drug use reductions – that the active ingredient was an interaction between programme and school.

He then went on to look at whether it can be replicated in the UK, and sees a number of obstacles, including teachers needs in relation to guidance, the cost per pupil, and enthusiastic local support.

The paper concludes by arguing that we are still looking for the right approach to drug education:

Where STAR and I-STAR undoubtedly have lessons for us in their impressive orchestration of school and community mobilisation and in the methodologies developed to evaluate their impact. What the impact was is the major question…

Despite their flaws, studies which seem to have discovered the educational route to a more drug-free generation – broad, inexpensive and relatively easy to travel – are seized upon. The unpalatable truth is that the existence of such a route has yet to be adequately established.

Filed under: Blueprint, research, USA


Slightly off our beaten track, but having been encouraged the last time I wandered out this way I’ve been tempted to to do so again. In any case I hope of interest.

The Research Digest Blog let’s us know about a new book, Nudge, drawing from a review of the book and say:

it turns out that people can be encouraged (or “nudged”) to use less
gas and electricity, simply by letting them know how much they use in
comparison with their neighbours. Similarly, the numbers of people
signed up as organ donors could be massively increased by making it an
opt-out system rather than an opt-in system, as we currently have here
in the UK.

That first example sounds quite a lot like the use of normative information.

Filed under: research

Playing consequences in the sitting room

The Guardian has a piece about work being done with young people at risk of exclusion in Wigan:

“They also need time spent on them,” says headteacher Dr Ted Walker. “They’re suffering from inadequate parenting in our most extreme cases. The parents might have mental-health problems, or be drug users – both in some cases. What’s remarkable is how quickly their kids can change with some care and attention. They don’t come back into school perfect, but there are little acts of transformation going on.”

The piece, it seems to me, describes very well the sort of contribution that schools and children’s services can make to the wellbeing agenda that was discussed at length last week.

Filed under: Well-being

Urban drug habits sniffed out in sewage

The New Scientist describe how scientists are testing our sewage to see which drugs we take:

The Milanese are partial to a line or two of cocaine. The same goes for many drug users in London, although they dabble in heroin more than their Italian counterparts. Both cities like ecstasy at the weekends and cannabis pretty much every day. Welcome to the results from a new branch of public health: sewage epidemiology.

Should you be intrigued you can read the whole research paper here.

Filed under: europe, illegal drugs, research, , ,

MP calls for alcohol ad ban at sports events

The Independent:

A ban on alcohol advertising at sporting events is being demanded by a Labour MP in an attempt to tackle binge drinking among young people.

Dr Howard Stoate, writing for the Fabian Society – a Labour think-tank – is worried that sports clubs are encouraging drinking among young people by glamorising alcohol and establishing a link with alcohol and success in sport.

Filed under: advertising, alcohol,

Cocaine found at university bars | Bristol

The BBC:

Drugs testing by students at the University of Bristol has suggested cocaine is used at most of its bars.

Journalists for the college newspaper, Epigram, used swabs to reveal traces of the drug at six of the seven hall bars they tested.

But news features editor Georgia Graham said it did not necessarily indicate widespread drug use.

Filed under: illegal drugs, university,

Leaflets show drink dangers – Sunderland

The Sunderland Echo take a look at a leaflet designed and written by a young person which is now being given to young people in the area:

UNDERAGE drinkers are being given a warning about the dangers of alcohol as part of a police clampdown.

A compact leaflet, which can fit easily into a pocket or wallet, is being handed out when youths are caught carrying booze.

It gives them information about the increased risk of drinking more than the recommended limit, how much alcohol there is in a measure of wine, beer, alcopops and spirts and how to avoid alcohol poisoning.

Filed under: alcohol, ,

Put that in your pipe…

Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the RSA, writes about the reclassification debate:

As the father of teenage sons I sometimes hear them talk about their peers smoking ‘weed’. For them it seems to be an aspect of identity, with smokers seen as a subset of what used to be called grungers; teens who wear baggie jeans, have long hair and spend a lot of time in their bedrooms listening to bands like Nirvana and their various imitators. My sons have different lifestyles and reference points so they tend to be disparaging about this particular subset of teen culture.

The point is that in all these discussions I have not once heard the idea that young people’s choices about cannabis are based on the law.

Indeed it is almost the reverse, as cannabis (the majority of which is now grown in the UK) has become easier and easier to get hold of it has lost some of its connotations of rebellion leaving young people to take a dispassionate view of its effects and its effects on those people who take a lot of it.

See also:

Filed under: cannabis, classification, RSA, ,

Primary schools suspend 1,000 under-sixes

The Telegraph:

Yesterday, a survey of half of England’s 150 local education authorities showed that the problem of bad behaviour started as soon as children joined reception classes.

The statistics – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act – showed that on more than 1,000 occasions, children aged four and five were temporarily barred from school last year.

The vast majority were for verbal and physical attacks on fellow pupils and teachers as well as for persistent disruptive behaviour.

Many pupils aged five to 11 were also suspended for sexual misconduct, racist abuse and drug and alcohol-related incidents. An estimated 370 were suspended for racist actions, 295 were barred for sexual misconduct and there were 73 drug and alcohol-related incidents.

They go on to estimate that if the patern they found were true of the whole country there would have been 48,000 primary school suspensions last year, up from 43,720 the year before.

Filed under: exclusions,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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May 2008
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