Drugs 'in every UK school'

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The Independent Online
Every school in Britain has a drugs problem, according to two leading headteachers' unions.</p>John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Headteachers' Association, said yesterday: "Any school that doesn't think it has a drugs problem doesn't know its children."</p>Peter Walker, adviser on drugs to the National Association of Headteachers, said: "You show me a head teacher that says they haven't got a drug problem and I will show you a liar. I mean infant schools, primary schools and secondary schools."</p>Mr Walker said the levels of drug taking inside schools was fairly low, arguing that most young people experimented either at home or at the homes of friends. And he said that many youngsters believed drug taking was "selfish" and had begun to display remarkably mature attitudes about the issue.</p>However, he admitted there were young people in schools who developed drugs problems or dealt drugs, advocating exclusion for the dealers so other "innocent" children were not sucked into drug use.</p>In Mr Dunford's view, however, the problem was more widespread.</p>"There isn't a town in the country now where the children will be able to tell you where you can obtain drugs or for how much in graphic detail â“ and I am talking about nice kids," he said.</p>"I think schools do an awful lot of work on drugs education which makes a considerable impact. The problem would be much worse without that."</p>Both said drugs education should start in primary schools, calling for more help for teachers in getting the anti-drugs message across.</p>The Department for Education and Skills yesterday dismissed the allegations. "What evidence is there that every school has got a drugs problem?" a spokesman said. "Most schools don't have a drugs problem. There are some that do and that is why we are taking steps to help teachers educate people better and why we are cracking down on drug dealing in and around schools."</p>But Mr Dunford also warned that there could also be future problems in schools because of recent moves to liberalise the laws on cannabis.</p>"I think young people are aware that there is a more liberal attitude on the part of the police to cannabis possession. But I think it's too early to say if that change of attitude will have an impact," he said.</p>According to previously unpublished research by Life Education Centres, a drug prevention charity whose patron is Prince Charles, more children now believed cannabis was "safe".</p>