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Monday, May 24, 1999 Published at 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK

Drugs lessons for the very young

The report calls for "relevant and accurate" information on drugs

Children need to be taught about drugs before they are old enough to come into contact with them, according to experts in the subject.

A report from the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, published in March, backed the government's strategy of providing drug education to school pupils from the age of five.

Drugs in Schools
Critics of this approach argue that teaching children about banned substances will only encourage them to try drugs.

But the report took an opposite view, saying that pupils needed to be given relevant and accurate information on drugs from an early age.

It made a series of recommendations on how schools could improve drug education lessons, including the advice that:

  • Schools should have a written drugs policy, drawn up with the help of parents and pupils.
  • Teachers should consider their own experience of drugs, and their attitudes towards them, before teaching drug education courses.
  • Support should be given to pupils with drug problems.

The Chief Executive of the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, Roger Howard, said he hoped the document would help schools make their drug education programmes as effective as possible.

He said: "Teachers are uniquely placed to educate young people about the risks associated with drug use."

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