HC Deb 14 November 1989 vol 160 cc173-4
8. Mr. Ian Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what guidance is offered by his Department to schools on making special provision for educating children in the dangers of drug abuse.

Mr. Alan Howarth

Schools are required to teach children about the harmful effects of drugs by the national curriculum science order. The Department has published "Drug Misuse and the Young", a booklet of guidance for teachers, and has funded the development of curriculum materials for use in schools. We also provide grant support for local authorities' drugs education activities.

Mr. Taylor

With the sickening evidence of the disaster that drug taking is causing in American schools, particularly with regard to crack, to which addiction can be almost instantaneous, will my hon. Friend provide even more guidance and resources to primary and secondary school teachers in Britain so that we can nip drug addiction in the bud?

Mr. Howarth

The Department has issued in bulk copies of a fact sheet on crack, with space for local information to be overprinted, to all drug education co-ordinators. It is for them to make a judgment about the appropriate use of the material in local circumstances. We believe that campaigns and shock-horror approaches are likely to prove counter-productive and that the right approach is to provide education about drugs in the general context of health education which stresses the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and helps equip young people with the skills that they need to resist the pressures to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Mr. Vaz

Does the Minister accept that it is a very serious problem and that if we learn from the mistakes of the American Government, surely we must consider the possibility of establishing a drugs helpline with telephone numbers publicised in our schools and colleges? That would enable children and young people to telephone the helpline and would make the authorities aware of the extent and the amount of drugs in a particular locality, enabling them to target the resources where they are most needed.

Mr. Howarth

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of monitoring the situation on the ground and providing the ready recourse to help and expert advice that he advocates. That is one possibility which I very much hope local education authorities will consider and which drugs education co-ordinators will have very much in mind. It is an example of information that could be overprinted on the fact sheet about crack that is being made widely available.

Mr. Rathbone

While welcoming my hon. Friend's answer and endorsing the Government's efforts to improve drug and health education in schools, will my hon. Friend pay further attention to the efforts of the Life education centres which were founded in Australia by the Rev. Ted Notts and which have done such a marvellous job? Does he agree that they could be adapted for use in this country to a much greater degree than hitherto?

Mr. Howarth

My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that there has been Government contact with Life education centres in a number of Departments. I plan to make direct contact with them.

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