Young people, as young as four, are being referred to specialist drug and alcohol treatment services in the UK.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed hundreds of young people are at risk of becoming addicts or have begun abusing alcohol and substances themselves, leaving many charities requesting improved education in schools.
The referrals either mean the child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from a relative or have begun abusing on their own. The most common reason is due to the child’s parents, reports Sky News.
According to the most recent statistics from Public Health England, 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13, compared with 433 in 2011/12. More than half of under-13s – 59% – received treatment for cannabis misuse. A third were treated for alcohol misuse, with a small number abusing solvents.
Andrew Brown, director of programmes at charity Mentor UK, which works to protect children from drug and alcohol misuse, said he was shocked at the findings of the Press Association investigation, reports the Telegraph.
Mr Brown said: “We think it is vital that alcohol and drug education improve. Our own survey of teachers suggests that at the moment delivery is inconsistent, and that the norm is to timetable only one or two sessions a year. This may sound sufficient, but evidence would suggest that longer programmes that systematically build skills and values are much more likely to prevent young people from coming to harm than one-off lessons.”
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Exempt Accommodation, Welfare Reform and Vulnerable Tenants
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