LONDON, March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
The announcement today by the Department of Education that PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education) will be non-statutory and drugs education will be optional has described as "outrageous" by Maryon Stewart of the legal highs drugs charity, Angelus.
The decision means schools may decide to not teach any education in schools at all at a time when there are huge numbers of new drugs and legal highs easily accessible by young people. Currently 60 percent of schools teach students about the dangers of drugs for one hour or less per year.
A recent Com/Res poll of 4,000 parents showed only 33 per cent of respondents believed that schools provide adequate education to children and young people around drugs and alcohol.
Last year, a new drug was discovered on average every six days (European Drug Monitoring Centre figures). The untested drug products can be bought very easily from hundreds of High Street headshops and online. Hospitalisations from legal highs have increased by 358 percent.
The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart, said: "There has never been a more urgent need for drug education. To give no direction to schools on this vital subject is an outrageous decision. We need clear, consistent advice to young people that a legal drug does not mean it is a safe drug. The use of illegal drugs may be going down but the use of legal ones has gone through the roof.
"Our Government chooses to sit on its hands while other Governments in Wales, Ireland and Scotland are taking action. A whole generation of young people are sleep walking into potential disaster and may well lose their wellbeing and mental health for life if the Government continues not to intervene.
"Angelus has set a standard that there should be at least three hours of lessons about the harms from drugs and alcohol per year for every school. Education is often the only thing preventing more children becoming hospitalised or killed by legal highs."
Notes to editors:
1) Maryon Stewart lost her daughter to GBL and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org. There is also a site for familieshttp://www.angelusfoundation.com.
2) In March 2013, Com/Res polled over 4,000 people in the UK on drug and alcohol issues. The survey found that:
- 84 per cent of respondents with school-aged children (5-15yrs) believe that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem.
- Only 33 per cent of respondents believed that schools provide adequate education to children and young people around drugs and alcohol.
- Only 33 per cent of respondents believe the government is doing enough to tackle underage drinking and illegal drug use.
3) In 2012 Scotland's largest health board in Glasgow reported a 358% rise in the number of young people needing emergency treatment after taking legal highs. It many cases, patients only survived after "urgent specialist treatment".
4. A Government written statement issued on 21 March confirmed, "it is for schools to tailor their local PSHE programme to reflect the needs of their pupil."
SOURCE Angelus Foundation