24 Feb 2012

ACMD - Drug Education and Prevention for Cocaine

I hope I'm not giving anything away in telling you that earlier this week I spent a couple of hours with members of the ACMD who are developing a report on cocaine.  I was asked in to help them consider what they might say in respect to education and prevention. As you will appreciate it will be upto the ACMD to decide what they recommend but I thought it would be okay to share with you the notes that I put together from which I spoke and answered questions. Attitudes to cocaine Only 2% of 11 – 15 year olds say it is okay to take cocaine to find out what it is like. http://bit.ly/xsKun8 Nine out of ten (93%) of 16 to 19 year olds say it is never okay to take cocaine. http://bit.ly/ryFmx5 Prevalence 1.2% pupils age 11 – 15 have ever taken powder cocaine. http://bit.ly/xsKun8 3.1% young people between 16 and 19 say...

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23 Feb 2012

Home Affairs Select Committee

Earlier this week Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Mentor and Advisory Group Member of the Drug Education Forum, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.  The committee are carrying out an investigation into the effectiveness of the drug strategy and called Paul and Maryon Stewart, the founder of the Angelus Foundation, to give evidence on drug education and prevention. Paul used the occasion to raise the uncertainty about the future of the Drug Education Forum. He said: The government have made it really, really clear they are in favour of really strong good drug education. What I'm wondering is where is the evidence for that; the Drug Education Forum, the main central repository for information in this country about drug education since 1995 is set to close next month through lack of funding. He went on to argue...

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15 Feb 2012

Fact check: Is there a growth in the acceptability of drunkenness by young people?

The Prime Minister talking about alcohol misuse says: Over the last decade we’ve seen a frightening growth in the number of people – many under-age – who think it’s acceptable for people to get drunk in public in ways that wreck lives, spread fear and increase crime. Unfortunately he doesn't reference where the draws his data from to support the claim that drunkenness is increasingly acceptable. But what we do know is that it certainly isn't true of 11 to 15 year olds. The latest annual survey of school pupils carried out for the NHS says: There has been a fall in recent years in the proportion of pupils who think that drinking is acceptable for someone of their age. In 2010, 32% thought it was OK for someone of their age to drink once a week, compared with 46% in 2003. Similarly 11% of pupils thought that it...

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13 Feb 2012

Department seeks partners for reaching young people

From the Department of Health website: The Department of Health is seeking partners to help it communicate with young people and those that work with them. It wants to work with organisations from all sectors to develop partnership activity and gain a range of expert perspectives to inform its work. The Department is currently developing a new holistic approach to communicating with young people to improve their health outcomes, and will launch a new marketing programme later this year. Young people face a range of challenges and pressures as they reach adolescence, when many choose to smoke, drink, experiment with drugs and have sex for the first time. Young people often make decisions without access to the right information or a candid discussion with a trusted adult. Accepting that young people will be curious about new experiences,...

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13 Feb 2012

Research Digest

Papers that have recently caught our eye include: Sustained Decreases in Risk Exposure and Youth Problem Behaviors After Installation of the Communities That Care Prevention System in a Randomized Trial Using the CTC system can produce enduring reductions in community-wide levels of risk factors and problem behaviors among adolescents beyond the years of supported implementation, potentially contributing to long-term public health benefits.  For a presentation on these findings was given to the European Society for Prevention Research and can be downloaded here. Associations Between Displayed Alcohol References on Facebook and Problem Drinking Among College Students Displayed references to intoxication or problem drinking were positively associated with AUDIT scores suggesting problem drinking as well as...

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13 Feb 2012

Can we teach resilience?

Last week I went to a lecture by a recently retired Brigadier General from the United States Army, Rhonda Cornum, who was talking about the resilience programme that she’d run in the military. The reason why the US military want to create resilience in their soldiers and why we might want to do so for children and young people may be different, but there seemed to be a number of very clear and transferable lessons about introducing programmes and techniques to what may initially seem unpromising institutional cultures. She argued that the military were well equipped when it came to treating problems as they come to light. However, she said that they had almost nothing in place to prevent those problems from occurring in the first place. Their resilience programme is an attempt to address this. The US Army has been running...

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06 Feb 2012

Video - The Responsibility Deal

Readers may be aware that the Department of Health are brokering a responsibility deal between industry and public health to try and improve the nation's health through voluntary agreement.  One of the areas where those involved in the process are looking to make a difference is in alcohol education. The Drug Education Forum, through our Brian Dobson, our chair, has been involved in the process, which is ongoing. Here Brian gives his thoughts on what has been going on and why he is comfortable with the process.

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04 Feb 2012

Drugs, discipline and schools

The Telegraph have been using the Freedom of Information Act to explore how many decisions to permanently exclude pupils have been overturned on appeal. They report that last year about 500 appeals were heard and that over the last 5 years some 400 decisions have been overturned.  The story details a number of individual cases including two that feature the possession of illegal drugs. I think it is worth putting some context around this, so I've gone back to the DfE data for school exclusions. Over the last 5 years there were just under 2,000 permanent exclusions that have been identified as for drug and alcohol use. 370 in 209/10. Over the last 5 years there were 48,000 permanent exclusions.   Throughout this period the government's advice to school was exclusion should be used as a last resort.  Indeed...

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27 Jan 2012

Call for proposals – Drug Prevention and Information Programme "Action grants" 2011-2012

I'd like to thank Neil for bringing my attention to a EU call for funding proposals for drug prevention and information programmes.   As you'll see they can contribute upto 80% of funding, but the call makes clear that proposals must have a minimum partnership of 2 eligible organisations from 2 different EU Member State, must not have started already, and must be for at least €75,000.  In total the fund for this call is €4,953,200. The EU say: Overall priority will be given to large-scale projects built on a wide partnership involving organisations from a significant number of EU Member States/eligible EFTA States and offering a true European scope and relevance. So think big people! The deadline for proposals is 17 April 2012, 12:00 CET.

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27 Jan 2012

Video - Drug Education and PSHE

We recently asked our Chair, Brian Dobson, to reflect on the position of drug education within PSHE, and how this might be supported as a result of the Department for Education's PSHE review. As you'll hear Brian is clear that our view is that drug education should be an entitlement for young people, and that PSHE should be a statutory subject for all schools.

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26 Jan 2012

Robert Slavin - the difference between programmes and principles in education

One of the really interesting blogs out there is Robert Slavin's Sputnik.   Robert is the Director of the Institute for Effective Education at York, amongst other things, and writes about using evidence to improve education. His latest blog post is all about the tricky issue of programmes over principles.   As anyone who has explored our site will know the Forum is a believer in principles as a bedrock for better drug education, we've spent sometime in thinking through the ones we advocate and hope they are helpful to educators and those that support drug education. Robert, though, makes a number of interesting points about the limitations that principles have in changing outcomes. He points out there is a resistance to using programmes in schools and that teachers often feel more comfortable with principles they can...

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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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