Key role for
parents in drug education
Two out of every three parents
in Northern Ireland are worried that their children may get
involved in taking drugs or solvents, according to research
commissioned by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland.
The figure was revealed today,
the beginning of European Drug Prevention Week, as the Agency
launched the third phase of a major public information campaign
The aim of the campaign is to
encourage parents to talk to their children about drugs. Parents
will be targeted with television advertising and support materials.
Speaking at the launch from Sprucefield
Shopping Centre, Lisburn, Rob Phipps, Alcohol and Drugs Programme
Manager for the Health Promotion Agency said: "We all know
that drugs are out there, so young people are at risk of experimenting
and becoming involved in more regular drug taking. We also
know that young people in Northern Ireland acknowledge the
role their parents have in respect of drug education. Young
people will listen to their parents about drugs if the information
they are receiving is accurate and consistent."
The Agency, as part of the wider
Northern Ireland Drugs Campaign, has taken up the challenge
for getting the facts across to parents about this very serious
Dr Brian Gaffney, Chief Executive
for the Health Promotion Agency said: "Research conducted
to assess adults' knowledge and awareness of illicit drug
misuse in Northern Ireland showed that three quarters of adults
knew little or nothing about drugs."
Research with 10-17 year olds
has shown that young people themselves feel their parents
should be providing them with information about drugs.
This third phase of the campaign
is focused upon supporting and empowering parents so they
are equipped with the knowledge to educate their children
about drugs. The campaign focuses on providing parents with
clear, concise and accurate information they need about drugs.
Many local activities have been
organised for European Drug Prevention Week which will be
supported by a range of voluntary and statutory organisations.
Activities include drama presentations, information sessions
for parents, establishment of support groups and community
events such as quizzes. A list of some of the activities is
The Northern Ireland Drugs Campaign
aims to ensure coordinated action against drugs on several
fronts. Launched in 1996 it involves a range of Government
departments and agencies including the RUC, Customs and Excise,
Prison Service, Probation Board, Health Promotion Agency,
DENI, DHSS and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research
Agency. It includes:
- A public information campaign:
developed by the Health Promotion Agency, this aims to discourage
experimentation among young people and raise awareness of
the dangers of drugs.
- A local coordination network:
based on the Health and Social Services Boards areas, the
network consists of four Drug Coordination Teams. The teams
provide a framework for local organisation, both statutory
and voluntary, involved in tackling drug misuse to combine
their efforts to the best possible effect in their area.
- Drug education training: specialist
training courses for teachers have been developed and a
comprehensive guidance pack on drugs has also been sent
to schools by DENI. Drug education material: additional
money was given to schools specifically to buy drug education
material which reflects the latest and most effective approach
to educating young people about the dangers of drugs. Specialist
Illicit drug use in Northern Ireland: A handbook for professionals
was produced and widely distributed by the Health
Promotion Agency and is regularly updated to keep the information
- Research: The Northern Ireland
Statistics and Research Agency has developed a research
strategy which will inform the coordinated efforts at all
levels. This includes the gathering of information on young
people's knowledge of drugs to help further develop the
public information campaign and the mapping of drug-related
activity in each Health and Social Services Board area Tuesday
1 December 1998.