Children drunk in classes

MTV poll reveals teenagers routinely under the influence of drugs or alcohol in class. Caroline Gammell reports.

More than a third of young people admit they have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the classroom, a survey found this week.

Boys were more likely to turn up to school under the influence, with 41 per cent saying they sometimes drank during the day, compared to 29 per cent of girls.

And 12 per cent of 16 to 19-year-olds said they had tried a class A drug, such as cocaine, ecstasy, crack cocaine or heroin, a proportion rising to 23 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds.

Nearly half of young people polled - 49 per cent - thought they acted stupidly while drunk, but 17 per cent claimed they needed alcohol to relax.

The Tpoll survey, commissioned by the music channel MTV to coincide with its 25th anniversary, quizzed 1,118 people aged between 16 and 24.

They were also asked about their attitudes to crime, debt, religion, fame and relationships.

More than half, 54 per cent, thought the death penalty should be brought back for serious crimes, while 63 per cent thought the police should have the right to stop and search suspects.

A quarter of the young men surveyed said they had been arrested or given a police caution - mainly for being drunk and disorderly - compared to 9 per cent of young women.

When it came to debt, 42 per cent admitted being in the red with almost half of girls, 48 per cent, admitting to running up large bills, compared with 44 per cent of boys.

Student loans and paying for education were cited as the main source of money problems, followed by shopping and entertainment.

Religion was considered important, with 40 per cent believing in God or another higher power, while 53 per cent thought young Muslims had been demonised since the London bombings of July 2005.

Most young people expected to live to the ripe old age of 82, while an optimistic 14 per cent said they expected to live to 100.

However, those surveyed were conservative in their attitudes to fame. Only 12 per cent thought celebrities were good role models and 65 per cent berated reality TV stars as "desperate".

In relationships, too, money and good looks were way down on the list of priorities. Only 3 per cent of young women counted physical beauty as a factor when seeking a partner, compared to 24 per cent of men.

Only one in 100 of those polled admitted to looking for a partner who had money.

Girls were more tolerant of same-sex marriages, with 60 per cent thinking they were acceptable compared to 36 per cent of young men. The same percentage of men said they felt "uncomfortable" with gay people, compared to 8 per cent of women.

Three out of four young people said they believed in traditional marriage.

Michael Barry, from MTV, said: "There are too many negative stereotypes about young people today.

"We're not a nation of mindless hoodies. This generation is actually more sensible, compassionate and traditional than many people imagine."


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