Social Care Study Shows Cannabis Most popular Drug With Schoolkids

Pupils are more likely to take cannabis than any other drug, new figures have revealed. Twelve per cent of pupils aged 11-15 took cannabis last year, while four per cent took class A drugs. The 2005 survey by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care gives an insight into behaviours of secondary school children across the country between the ages of 11 and 15. In general drinking, smoking and drug use increased with age. Of the 15-year-olds who took part in the survey, 46 per cent said they had had a drink in the last week, 20 per cent had smoked regularly and 34 per cent had tried illegal drugs in the last year.

The figures for 11-year-olds were much lower, three per cent had had a drink in the last week, one per cent smoked regularly and six per cent had taken drugs in the last year. Thirty nine per cent of all pupils said they had never been offered drugs – an increase from 36 per cent in 2004.

Of the 9,000 pupils who completed the survey, seven per cent reported taking volatile substances in the last year.

But while the proportion of pupils who had never had a drink was the highest ever measured by the survey at 42 per cent, the average consumption among pupils aged 11 to 15 who drank alcohol was 10.5 units – double the consumption of 5.3 units in 1990.

Ninety per cent of 15-year-olds said they had tried smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs and 55 per cent of 15-year-olds reported doing one of them recently.

Nine per cent of pupils smoked at least one cigarette a week and girls were more likely to be regular smokers than boys – 10 per cent of girls compared to 7 per cent of boys.

The survey also found that children who miss school through truancy or exclusion are much more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and take illegal drugs. It shows a big difference in illegal drug use between pupils who play truant and those who don’t. Around one in three of pupils that had played truant said they had taken drugs, compared with six per cent of non-truants.