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Child drink and drug use revealed

One in seven secondary school pupils have tried illegal drugs, while 20% of 10 to 15-year-olds regularly get drunk, a major government study has shown.

The Ofsted study questioned more than 100,000 pupils across England and found the biggest worry for most children is their exams.

It reveals 15% of children aged between 12 and 15 have experimented with illegal drugs, most often cannabis, but also cocaine, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

Nearly half of 10 to 15-year-olds (48%) said they have drunk alcohol, while one in six 14 and 15-year-olds admitted to getting drunk at least three times in the previous month.

But the vast majority of youngsters believe they are healthy, and said they exercise at least three times a week.

And nearly three-quarters said they have never smoked a cigarette, while 80% of older children said they have never tried illegal drugs.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "This survey shows that the majority of children and young people in England feel happy, safe, enjoy life and are doing well at school.

"This is a time of unprecedented opportunity for children and young people, but the survey also shows there are challenges and pressures that we need to address with decisive action.

"There are also some issues, like young people experimenting with alcohol or other risky behaviour, that collectively we need more action to address."


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"After 27 years as a volunteer drug prevention professional, a grandfather from Virginia, USA and I decided to ask the current US administration to support random, non-punitive student drug testing. There is no punishment unless there is evidence of dealing or other criminal behaviour. Only the parents are notified of the positive test so that they may get help before the police or the coroner come to the door. We arrived at this decision because we had two parents appear on TV to tell the story of their child's drug use and offer a prevention booklet. We expected perhaps 500 requests.  However, in less than 3 weeks, I had 17,500 letters. Most of the letters mentioned that "we simply didn't know until it was too late." We decided we had to find a way. The Bush Administration supported us and Congress passed the Leave No Child Behind Education Bill, Section 4115.  The Administration now holds regional seminars across America teaching the value of student drug testing.  If you'd like more information, call John Walters, Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, The White House at 202-395-6700.  Testing is confidential. Only the tester, the student and parents are advised." - Name and address supplied

"Haven't children and young people always experimented and moved the boundaries? Isn't it the parents guidance and control that is somehow missing the mark?" - Name and address supplied