Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Can centre-based youth work contribute to drug misuse?

Children and Young People Now have asked a number of people to reflect on the story they ran a week or so ago.

Richard McKie, who represents the NYA on the Drug Education Forum and is their national programme manager for health, is given the chance to put his view:

The truth of the matter is that centre-based youth provision will attract young people from a local community, so the levels of risk-taking and health behaviours they are involved with are intimately linked to the demographic make-up of that locality. It is therefore likely to be the case, for example, that the schools serving such communities will also struggle with the same issues and behaviours. To attribute to youth centres – likely to be open only a few hours a week in often under-resourced conditions – the charge of exacerbating poor outcomes is a highly selective misreading, and misses 90 per cent of the context of the lives of those young people.

They didn’t use my contribution, but here’s the statement I sent the magazine at their request:

A recent review of the evidence about effective drug education didn’t find much that we could place a great deal of reliance on.  One piece did suggested that some youth workers felt young people might be resistant to drug education messages in a youth club setting, but this wasn’t supported by any empirical evidence.

Indeed the best evidence we had came from the United States, which found that young people who participate in youth clubs or extended schooling had a number of positive outcomes, including avoiding drug and alcohol use.

Youth clubs can provide a positive environment for young people who struggle with formal education, youth workers must be aware of the issues that young people face around drugs and alcohol and actively work to reduce the likelihood that problems will emerge.

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Filed under: youth service

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