n THE OTHER week, to the shock of most of the parents I've discussed it with, a questionnaire about drug education was sent home from school with all the children - including my sons aged three and seven. Of the parents and carers who filled in the odd little document, 70 per cent said that they would prefer to conduct such education at home.

It was later explained to parents at a hastily convened meeting why it was that our views were worthless. Parents were told that one of the objects of the "module" was to challenge stereotypes about drugs, something about which we knew nothing. In a role-play asking children what sort of person they might see at a bus stop with a bag full of drugs, the drug- ladies told us with heavy hearts, some racist children actually describe a large scary man with dreadlocks.

This is worrying not just because of the stereotype but also because it suggests that the child is already aware of the existence of street drugs. Instead, the pedagogues explained, the answer they are looking for is, for example, "a nurse".

At this point one of the disbelieving, horrified, parents actually jeered, "Yeah, right. Because nurses never take drugs, do they?"

This being a democracy, and us being the taxpayers financing this ghastly exercise, our views have been swept aside. Drug education has now started for the oldest children at the school. One 10-year-old, asked to tell the wise ones where he had heard about drugs, solemnly informed them: "On television, and now at school." How we all laughed when this was related at the PTA meeting. The casual observer would have assumed that we'd just found a forgotten cache of 20-year-old giggly grass.

Comments