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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Children duped by cannabis
Children think cannabis is less harmful than cigarettes
Children think cannabis is less harmful than cigarettes
Primary school children believe cannabis is a safe, legal medicine, a survey of teachers has shown.

Teachers say children are increasingly confused about drugs. Seventy-nine per cent said children believed cannabis was safe.

The charity Life Education Centres surveyed 56 of its specialist teachers who promote drugs awareness through group discussions and role play, in 2,000 schools across the UK.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said the proposed reclassification of cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug could lead young children to experiment with the drug and make drug prevention work more difficult.


The findings are obviously worrying

Dr Simon Fradd, Doctor Patient Partnership
Almost three quarters of teachers said children thought it was less harmful to smoke cannabis than to smoke a cigarette, and 79% said they thought cannabis was safe to use.

The majority - 86% - said children thought cannabis was legal and 79% said children believed it was a type of medicine.

Confusion

Stephen Burgess, national director of Life Education Centres, said the survey's findings showed people working with children must "redouble" their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs amongst children.

He said: "The very public debate about cannabis, much of it downplaying the potential harm, coupled with proposals to reclassify the drug, appear to have confused many children about the real dangers."

Dr Simon Fradd, chairman of health charity the Doctor Patient Partnership, said: "The findings are obviously worrying. Children are exposed to all kinds of messages about health and drugs through the media, films and the Internet as well as the playground.

"It is important they have the skills, confidence and knowledge to filter this information correctly."

See also:

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