Children are starting to use drugs younger than ever before, according to researchers at Glasgow University.
The average age of children using drugs is said to be dropping
The study into youngsters aged 10 to 12 revealed that a third had been exposed to illegal drugs and one in 20 had used them.
The experts, who questioned children in Glasgow and Newcastle, said the report showed a need for schools to tailor drug education to specific age groups.
They also called for parents to exert a greater degree of supervision.
The researchers, who questioned 2,318 children, found that children who were
living in families with a low level of parental supervision were eight times
more likely to have started to use illegal drugs than youngsters whose parents
exercised a high level of supervision.
They also found that children living in families where other people were using
illegal drugs were seven times more likely than their peers to have become
Professor Neil McKeganey, head of the university's Centre for Drug Misuse, said: "This
research shows that illegal drug use is occurring at an increasingly young age
and that as a result drug prevention is a more important task today than at any
time in the past.
"If we fail to meet the needs of these vulnerable young people we will face
the horrifying prospect of increasing numbers of children who have become
addicted to illegal drugs before their voices have broken."
The survey also associated pre-teen drug use with frequent smoking and alcohol
consumption and their involvement in a wide range of other kinds of behaviour at
a young age such as committing acts of vandalism, skipping school or carrying