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Two thirds of Chippenham teens say ‘we tried drugs’
Two thirds of teenagers surveyed told their Chippenham youth worker they had experimented with drugs.
A survey of 25 youngsters, with an average age of 15 to 16, was taken for Wiltshire Council’s Youth Advisory Group on February 21 ahead of the Drugs Awareness Week the council is running this week.
Sixteen out of the 25 teenagers asked said they had experimented with drugs and eight out of the ten questionnaire respondents said they had been offered drugs.
Most thought drugs education should start as early as primary school.
Senior youth development co-ordinator Richard Williams told councillors at a meeting on Monday: “Generally they thought cannabis was okay but manufactured drugs were worse. They had taken them for various reasons – parties, stress, experimenting.
“About half in the questionnaires said they hadn’t received enough education and this should be done earlier, some even said at the end of Year 6 before they start big school.”
Chippenham Police Inspector Phil Stayning said: “We fully support this week. It’s not always an enforcement option that works best. We will keenly work with partners in relation to rehabilitative and educative angles. But for those who cause harm by supplying drugs, we will always look to take a most robust stance.”
Maggie Rae, Wiltshire Council’s corporate director for health, said nationally drug use among young people had declined, with 11 to 15-year-olds saying they had taken drugs in the last month halving from 12 per cent in 2001 to six per cent in 2011. She said: “This is good news because sometimes people don’t get to try twice.”
Councillor Bill Douglas said: “We will share this information with all the schools and it will inform their policy.
“Hardenhuish, Abbeyfield and Sheldon schools are supporting this week by spreading the details and flyers to pupils and parents. Every household with children at the schools will be informed, about 4,000 in all.”
Abbeyfield headteacher David Nicholson said: “I agree it has to start as early as primary school.”
Hardenhuish School will be using the new evidence as part of an annual evaluation of their drugs programme, said headteacher Jan Hatherell. Wiltshire Police and other outside agencies work alongside Hardenhuish teaching staff to deliver drugs education in every year for 11 to 16-year-olds.
Redland Primary School headteacher Hilary Lambert, said: “It is appropriate to start approaching it at primary, I completely endorse that. We talk about making the right choices and the dangers of drugs in years five and six.”
A mobile unit on the town bridge tomorrow and Saturday will provide information and on Monday there will be a public meeting in the town hall from 11am to 1pm.
The views of the youth group will be discussed and families will be helped in how to recognise the signs and treatments for illegal drugs and new legal highs.