11 to 15-year-old pupils are smoking and drinking less

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Proportion of schoolchildren taking drugs fell over the past decade, says new report

11 to 15-year-old pupils are also smoking and drinking less than ten years ago

Drug-taking among secondary school children fell by 12 percentage points in the past ten years, according to new figures out today from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Around one in six (17 per cent) 11 to 15-year-olds surveyed in 2011 said they had ever taken drugs. This compares to 2001, when 29 per cent of pupils in the same age range reported that they had.

There were falls in the percentage of children who said they had taken drugs in the last year at every age surveyed. For example, among 15-year-olds, the fall was by 16 percentage points over the decade (39 per cent in 2001 to 23 per cent in 2011).

The findings come from Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2011, which surveyed around 6,500 pupils between September and December 2011.

This year’s report had a particular focus on drug use and showed in 2011:

12 per cent of pupils reported having taken drugs in the last year – compared to 20 per cent in 2001.
Drug use increased with age with three per cent of 11-year-olds reporting having taken drugs in the last year compared to 23 per cent of 15-year-olds.
Pupils were more likely to have taken cannabis than any other type of drug, but levels of cannabis use were still down on 2001 levels with 7.6 per cent reporting they had taken the drug in the last year compared to 13.4 per cent a decade earlier.
Pupils were most likely to have got drugs on the most recent occasion from a friend (71 per cent).
The proportion of pupils who had ever tried drugs was lower in regions in the north and midlands than in the south of England.
The report also showed:

One in four (25 per cent) 11 to 15-year-olds had smoked at least once – the lowest proportion since the survey began in 1982.
One in twenty pupils (five per cent) were classed as regular smokers (smoking at least one cigarette a week) – half the percentage compared to 2001 when one in ten smoked regularly (10 per cent).
45 per cent of pupils said they had drunk alcohol at least once – compared to 61 per cent in 2001.
The proportion of pupils drinking frequently fell with seven per cent of pupils saying they usually drank at least once a week, compared to 20 per cent in 2001.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “The report shows that pupils appear to be leading an increasingly clean-living lifestyle and are less likely to take drugs as well as cigarettes and alcohol.

“The findings also include for the first time more information about where pupils are accessing drugs and we can see they mainly get them from their peers. .

“All this material will be of immense interest to those who work with young people and aim to steer them towards a healthier way of life.”

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