Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Snorting craze could be fatal

The Sun report that young people appear to be imitating drug taking using crushed up sweets:

Thrill-seeking kids then snort the coke-like powder up their noses in a line.

Gleeful children across Britain are posting footage of themselves in school uniforms trying the craze.

The paper quotes an American doctor who argues that the fine powder could cause infection or in extreme circumstances death.

Filed under: media

Media Reaction to European School Survey

The BBC lead saying that UK young people are among worst for drink.  They quote Professor Martin Plant saying:

“There is a clear scientific consensus that alcohol education and mass media campaigns have a very poor track record in influencing drinking habits.”

Meanwhile, as part of their School Report, a young reporter has been doing her own survey:

Thirty per cent say they don’t drink, 5% considered themselves to be “addicted” to drink and 15% of the participants drank for “popularity”.

Many teenagers obviously think that is it “cool” to drink just so that they can get in with “The Popular Crowd”.

The Times also mention Professor Plant and say:

Scientists have renewed calls for a minimum price for alcoholic drinks after a study found that British teenagers are still among the heaviest drinkers in Europe.

The Guardian also focus on the issue of alcohol, and include a quote from Don Shenker, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, who says:

Not only are UK children getting drunk more often than most of their European peers, they’re drinking larger amounts when they do. These figures show that the widespread practice of binge drinking in the UK has now filtered down to school-age children.

The Telegraph follow the pack and report:

More than one in four British teens said that they had binged at least three times in the past month, the survey found.

Britain also came third in the number of teenagers who admitted drinking over the previous month, 33 per cent, behind only Denmark and the Isle of Man.

Asked what the consequences of drinking were, British  teenagers were the only ones to rate it overall as a positive experience.

Filed under: europe, media

Thinking about Risk

The BBC have an interesting article looking a the way that health risks are often described in the media:

From bacon to booze, risks often make headlines: “CANCER UP X PERCENT IF YOU DO Y” – you know what I’m talking about. So I’ve devised a simple but different way of seeing stories, with a click-by-click Risk-o-meter.

Here’s an example from the slides.


Filed under: media

Research – Young People and the Media

bjdpTwo pieces of research for you from the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, via the Research Digest blog.

First up the abstract of Television alcohol advertising: Do children really mean what they say?:

Few studies have investigated children’s responses to television alcohol advertising. Two separate studies evaluated the appeal of alcohol advertisements on children aged 7-10. An exploratory interview study (N=17) was carried out to assess children’s verbal responses to both alcohol and non-alcohol advertisements and to elicit vocabulary to be used in the second study. Whilst the 7-8 years old children were very positive about the alcohol advertisements, older children did not like them, nor did they perceive them to be effective. The second study was designed to assess children’s implicit knowledge, in view of developmental theory that knowledge is not always available for verbal report. This study (N=179) used a simple categorization programme on computer. Using this methodology, children of all ages liked the alcohol advertisements and perceived them as effective. Advertising styles affected popularity with humour, cartoon format or the inclusion of an animal, or character increasing the appeal of an advertisement. The discussion draws attention to the importance of multiple methodologies in eliciting valid and accurate information from children, and to policy matters with regard to alcohol advertising regulation.

See also this earlier research which suggests the format of adverts can be particularly attractive to young people.

Second, and slightly tangentially, Young children’s ability to recognize advertisements in web page designs:

Identifying what is, and what is not an advertisement is the first step in realizing that an advertisement is a marketing message. Children can distinguish television advertisements from programmes by about 5 years of age. Although previous researchers have investigated television advertising, little attention has been given to advertisements in other media, even though other media, especially the Internet, have become important channels of marketing to children. We showed children printed copies of invented web pages that included advertisements, half of which had price information, and asked the children to point to whatever they thought was an advertisement. In two experiments we tested a total of 401 children, aged 6, 8, 10 and 12 years of age, from the United Kingdom and Indonesia. Six-year-olds recognized a quarter of the advertisements, 8-year-olds recognized half the advertisements, and the 10- and 12-year-olds recognized about three-quarters. Only the 10- and 12-year-olds were more likely to identify an advertisement when it included a price. We contrast our findings with previous results about the identification of television advertising, and discuss why children were poorer at recognizing web page advertisements. The performance of the children has implications for theories about how children develop an understanding of advertising.

I raise the latter article because we have seen other research that says that the amount of alcohol advertising young people see can be correlated to their drinking behaviour (see also here).  We’ve also seen research that suggests that young people understanding marketing could have a positive impact particularly around tobacco.

Filed under: advertising, media

Psychoanalysis and Cinema


This may be a bit off topic, but I was intrigued to see that the Institute of Psychoanalysis are using film to look at “how the characters got involved in drugs, how society and the media respond to addiction, and how it affects work and home life”.

It seemed to me that this might be something that those involved in drug education may also be doing – although finding the 119 minutes to watch The Man With The Golden Arm and then to talk through the issues may be asking quite a lot.

Certainly drug education does often use video as a way of allowing children and young people explore issues, but as far as I can tell those aren’t usually mainstream films.

More details of what the Institute of Psychoanalysis are upto here.

Filed under: media

Britain’s youth ‘blighted by crime’

Daily Star:

Britain’s youth is increasingly affected by violent crime, depression, stress and drugs, a survey shows.

The poll of 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds shows they feel they are facing more personal and social problems than they were a year ago.

The survey was carried out for MTV and, the Star report, as a result “has launched” an online service for young people, or so the story says. I can’t find the service, and while I’m guessing it’ll be at http://www.mtvi.co.uk that domain currently needs a user name and password.

Same story in the Daily Mail:

Young people believe they are unhappier than ever before as crime, alcohol and drugs wreck their lives, according to a report.

Instead of enjoying their youth, many are in the depths of depression, the survey found.

They are under stress and terrified of being attacked in the street. Many have turned to drink and drugs in response.

Filed under: media,

Youth crime films are premiered

BBC Bristol report on a couple of short films developed by young people. One focuses on the problems that can be caused by drugs:

The short feature Nine Lives was produced by the Brizzle team from Fairfield School, and uses traditional two-dimensional coloured drawings.

The story is based on the idea of a cat with nine lives – the young girl experiments with drugs for nine days and then dies from an overdose.

The film ends with the message: “Cats have nine lives. You’ve just got one. But if you take drugs. You’ll have none.”

Filed under: media

British Voices

These short films are from earlier this year, but you may want to take a look.

They were commissioned by Channel 4 News, one deals with how three young people who use drugs view them, and another looks at heavy drinkers.

Filed under: media

Journalist gave alcohol to boys | Bristol


A journalist has received a police caution after supplying alcohol to teenagers who were later involved in violence that left one in a coma.

The 28-year-old journalist, who has not been named, was working for a news agency at the time.

He allowed the 16-year-olds to keep the alcohol when the shoot finished.

Apparently the photos were for a national newspaper running a campaign to highlight the problems of young people’s drinking.

Filed under: alcohol, media

The ultimate taboo?

Jackie Ashley writing about why politicians won’t give a straight answer about their own drug use on the Guardian’s Comment is free:

It’s one thing to be trying to set a good example to young people, and undoubtedly, the spectacle of all our top politicians admitting to smoking cannabis would make it more difficult to talk about the dangers of drugs. But good heavens, what world are they all living in? As a result of tighter controls on alcohol for the under-18s, cannabis is now more freely available than ever at teenage parties. It’s arguably a lot less dangerous than the vodka shots which seem to have become the top teenage tipple.

The truth is that some teenagers and young people smoke cannabis today just as some teenagers did 20 or 30 years ago. The truth is also that most of them will stop smoking cannabis when they become young adults and have to cope with the demands of jobs and families – not helped by being stoned.

Filed under: cannabis, media,

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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July 2021