Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Teenage Summer Binge Drinking Campaign

The government have announced a fund of £1.4 million which will be spent over 69 areas to tackle young people’s drinking in public.

The press release says that the government are expecting local partnerships to develop a 3 point plan of how they will spend the money.  These points must include:

  • Tough enforcement – confiscating alcohol, using dispersal powers to break up groups of young people getting drunk and causing trouble and behaviour contracts to hold them to account;
  • Early intervention and support – giving young people one-to-one support, and youth services working with families to address underlying reasons for young people’s behaviour, using parenting contracts and orders to support parents;
  • Communicating to the local community – making it clear to the public what is being done to tackle drunk and disorderly behaviour by young people.

Responding to the announcement Eric Carlin, chair of the Drug Education Forum said:

We support anything that prevents young people being harmed by using alcohol or drugs.

But we do think that local partnerships must work with young people and their families to address young people’s use of alcohol and this must be about prevention as well as enforcement.

We urge the government to make sure that there is proper evaluation of the scheme and to ensure that what happens this summer is followed up by education and support in the autumn.


Filed under: alcohol, Government

Know Your Limits – Street Dares

The government have launched a new Know Your Limits campaign.  The Home Office’s press release gives a flavour of what they’re trying to achieve:

The centrepiece of this year’s Know Your Limits campaign is a new internet viral advert which shows footage of people’s sober reactions when asked to behave as they would if drunk.

A presenter asks members of the public to smear vomit on themselves, pinch a stranger’s bum and fight. His demands escalate to glassing another person and throwing a bin through a window. The advert captures people’s expressions when confronted with what some people will do when they’re drunk.

Here’s the video:

Filed under: alcohol, Government, Know Your Limits

Alcohol, children & families – Speech

Baroness Morgan, the DCSF Minister, talking about alcohol’s impact on children and families:

It is estimated that between 780,000 and 1.3 million children are affected by parental alcohol problems.

Alcohol is linked to 50 per cent of child protection cases and one third of domestic violence incidents.

Alcohol misuse causes harm to children at every age from conception to adulthood.

The total impact on family unity, on children’s experiences of growing up, and on young people’s idea of the norms of acceptable behaviour, is impossible to calculate.

Read the rest here.

Filed under: alcohol, Government

The Drug Education Forum’s response to the Young People and Alcohol Guidance consultation

The Forum has submitted the following response to the current consultation on young people and alcohol, which takes in the Chief Medical Officers draft guidance and DCSF draft messages to parents and young people.
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: alcohol, consultation, Government

National Tackling Drugs Week

home-officeVia DrugData Update I see that the Home Office have produced a handbook for local agencies and police forces to give them ideas on how to contribute to their tackling drugs week.

Amongst the advice and ideas were two that might interest readers of this blog.  First for talking to parents they say:

Why not approach a local school and see if you can reach parents through the schools newsletter with FRANK’s top tips, or is there a parents evening happening during National Tackling Drugs Week that you could go along to. FRANK branded leaflets, posters, postcards are available for you to use during National Tackling Drugs Week.

And if you are interested in reaching young people they suggest:

A really effective way of reaching young people is with the FRANK peer-to-peer street marketing approach. FRANK has produced a guide to street marketing – email FRANK@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk for a copy. The guide has information about recruiting and training young people to act as FRANK ambassadors and includes lots of ideas for getting key messages out to young people in your community.

These ideas apart I couldn’t help notice that prevention messages were notable by their absence.  By comparison I counted 7 key messages which are about enforcement and 4 which focus on treatment.

Filed under: Frank, Government

Alcohol Consultation – A Reminder

As we’ve got a few days to respond to the consultation on the Chief Medical Officer’s guidance to parents and young people about alcohol I thought it might be helpful to be reminded what it is he’s saying and what some of the implications are from the 5 statements he’s made.

I’ve also put together another slide set which has a number of the messages that the government are thinking of using with parents and young people.

The consultation on both closes on 23 April.

Filed under: alcohol, consultation, Government

The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report

lamingVia Community Care I see that the newly published Laming Report makes two recommendations that may be of interest to readers of this blog.

  • All police, probation, adult mental health and adult drug and alcohol services should understand referral processes.
  • The Department for Children, Schools and Families should establish statutory representation on Local Safeguarding Children Boards from schools, adult mental health and adult drug and alcohol services.

The report reminds us:

an estimated 250,000 – 350,000 children have parents who are problematic drug users, and around 1.3 million children live with parents who are thought to misuse alcohol. In this context, it is vital that professional staff working with adults are trained to identify and assess the needs of, and risk of harm to, children and young people.

The report itself can be downloaded here.

Filed under: Government

Consultation on Children, Young People and Alcohol

The Department for Children Schools and Families have asked me to bring the following to your attention:

Over the last few years, the way that young people drink has been changing and we are beginning to learn more about the risks associated with children, young people and alcohol – that it impairs their well-being, puts them at a number of immediate risks, and can impact on their health and future prospects.

Although fewer children and young people are choosing to drink at all, those that do are drinking more, more often, and starting at a younger age. The most common drinks that young people now consume are those that are cheaper and higher in alcohol content, such as spirits and alcopops. More young people are drinking outside in public places, such as parks and the high street. This type of unsupervised drinking is clearly linked with putting young people at immediate risk of ending up in hospital, having unsafe sex, being injured or getting involved in violent crime or anti-social behaviour.

Young people are harming themselves in the long term by drinking too much too often, and this is becoming ‘the norm’ among some groups, such as the 15% of 11−15-year-olds who usually drink at least once a week. They are putting themselves at a greater risk of liver damage, problems with brain development and memory, and depression. This is a serious issue, with more than 10,000 young people every year ending up in hospital due to drinking, as a result of acute alcohol poisoning or an alcohol-related accident.

We want to reduce the damage that young people, families and the community experience as a result of youth drinking, which is why we launched the Youth Alcohol Action Plan last year to stop the problem of young people drinking in public places, and to work in partnership with the alcohol retail industry to continue to tackle instances of underage sales.

In order to help young people to make sensible decision about drinking, and to support parents to protect their children from the harms associated with early alcohol use, we asked the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to produce clear health Guidance. This work has been done and we are supporting this with Advice and Information to help parents and young people to understand and use the Guidance.

This is important, because the most common source of alcohol for young people is from their parents; young people learn their attitudes and drinking behaviour from parents; and parents have the greatest influence over protecting their children from alcohol related harm.

Those aged under 18 are not adults, but children and young people whose developing brains and bodies are more susceptible to damage from drinking, putting them at increased risk from what may seem like fairly small amounts of alcohol for an adult. We should all look at the way in which young people drink and ask ourselves the question, “Is it safe for them to do this?”

Parents raise children; government does not. However, parents and young people have asked for a clear message on the health effects of alcohol consumption on young people and what the boundaries should be on when and how children should be introduced to alcohol, and have asked for more information on which to base their decisions and choices.

This consultation is based on two documents that are aimed at reaching all parents, children and young people under 18 as well as health, education and children’s services professionals:

  • the Chief Medical Officer’s Guidance on the consumption of alcohol by children and young people; and
  • our initial ideas for the supporting Advice and Information for parents and young people.

This is your opportunity to get involved, shape the messages that will go to parents and young people, and have your say on how they will be delivered. You can have an influence on how this campaign develops. We do not have all the answers, which is why we want to hear your thoughts and comments so that you can help to make this a success.

If you want to take part in the consultation you can find it here, and if you want to run a consultation event (with young people or parents) then there’s a pack that can be downloaded here.

Filed under: alcohol, Government

Youth Alcohol Action Plan Presentation

I’ve been sent the following presentation on the Youth Alcohol Action Plan by Matthew Scott, which you may find useful.

Matthew also points out there have been changes to the ECM website and have added a feature where you can sign up for policy updates.

Filed under: alcohol strategy, Government

Primary Review – Interim Report

primary-reviewI’m afraid I haven’t had enough time to devote to the recent publication of the interim report from The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum.  This post hopes to remedy this at least in part.

As has been widely reported the report is suggesting trying to develop a more systemic approach to cross curricular learning:

While the current framework should not prevent schools from developing a curriculum that makes the best both of subject studies and cross -curricular studies, this is not achieved often enough. Though by no means a universal response, many primary teachers report that they fi nd it well nigh impossible to concentrate thoroughly on literacy and numeracy and deliver all ten statutory subjects of the National Curriculum, plus religious education (RE) and the joint non-statutory, but soon to become statutory, framework for PSHE and citizenship.

These difficulties are noted in Ofsted’s annual reports which repeatedly tell us that teaching, learning and assessment in the foundation subjects are weaker and lag behind standards in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. This is largely because many teachers struggle to cover the full curriculum. The Review is therefore working to propose a framework which will enable schools and teachers to overcome these difficulties.

They’re helpfully provided a pictoral overview of the framework they’re proposing and as you’ll see personal development and physical health and well-being are crucial parts of the curriculum that is being suggested.


In terms of drugs the report has this to say:

Possibly more than any other aspect of the remit, personal development has been subject to piecemeal treatment. This is borne of disparate elements being added to it as deep societal concerns about such critical matters as drug abuse, obesity, sex and relationships, violent behaviour, ‘e-safety’, financial capability and so forth, press for an educational response in primary schools with children at an ever earlier age. Sadly, society at large, which looks to schools to address these concerns, does not always live up to and exemplify the standards of behaviour that it expects of its children.

They acknowledge the popularity and limitations of SEAL and suggest they’ll look at whether it needs to be extended or modified in their final report.

This interim report goes on to make a two part recommendation which they hope will strengthen the provision for personal development:

(i) Build a framework, based on the successful SEAL programme, for the personal skills and attitudes that all children should develop throughout their schooling. The framework should exemplify how these skills and attitudes can be fostered across the curriculum.

(ii) Set out the essential knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes for personal, social and health education (PSHE) alongside physical education (PE) in an area of learning, provisionally entitled ‘Understanding physical health and well-being’.

The DCSF point out that:

Sir Jim Rose welcomes contributions and comments on the interim report from everyone with an interest in primary education. If you wish to contribute, please use the contact details below to share your views on the interim report by 28 February 2009.

The DCSF YouTube channel has a number of videos of headteachers reacting to the report, perhaps unsurprisingly they’re broadly welcoming.  Here’s an example:

You can download this post as a 2 page breifing –Primary Review Briefing [pdf]

Filed under: education, Government

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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