Addressing school effects on drug use

Research shows that schools can be a major negative influence on pupils’ drug use. Adam Fletcher explains

CHILDREN BORN DURING THE MID-1990s are highly connected, “digital natives” of Generation Z. They have grown up with MySpace and mobile phones, illegal downloads, and instant messaging. However, they are also growing up at a time when experimentation with drugs often begins during the early teenage years and pathways into regular drug use have been normalised. As such, reducing the harms associated with drug use is a major public health concern.

What we know
● There is evidence of school effects on pupils’ drug use.
● These are likely to occur because, at some schools, drug use is an important source of identity, bonding, and “escape”.
● Interventions which promote a positive school culture and reduce pupil disengagement would complement existing drug education interventions.
● Broader social policies relating to school targets and educational assessment may also influence rates of pupils’ drug use.

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June 2012