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Drug awareness

LIFE HURTS SERIES: YOUNG PEOPLE, DRUGS AND CRIME. 25-minute video and teacher's pack, pound;25. Available from Oasis Media, 115 Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 0AX.Tel: 020 7450 9050. Ages 14-18. TACKLING DRUGS TOGETHER FOR A BETTER BRITAIN. London Governor Trainers, November 1999. From Governor development and training, education dept, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow TW3 4DN Tel: 020 85832872

In Young People, Drugs and Crime, the seventh in the Talking Heads series of Life Hurts videos, Graham recounts honestly and articulately his experiences of addiction, crime and prison following a miserable childhood and bullying at school.

It is a year since Graham became drug-free. Despite having felt alone, unloved and consumed by self-pity, he no longer blames anyone but himself for his problems.

For teachers seeking alternatives to the outmoded "drug prevention by dissuasion" strategy, this raises a range of issues for teenagers, including the need to deliver effective help to those in despair and the dangers of not seeking it.

Graham's story is poignant and, ultimately, positive. It points to the double tyranny of negative labelling and unchallenged bullying, and emphasises the stark difference between the problematic drug user and those whose recreational use is fuelled by the desire for excitement or risk. There is much material for more general PSHE. The teacher's pack can be downloaded free from lifehurtsdrugs.htm.

The iformation, exercises and discussion points are mostly sound, with sensible emphasis on ground rules. However, it is marred by the assumptions that drug taking is progressive and lessons to boost drug resistance skills are worthwhile.

Tackling Drugs for a Better Britain is a school governors' training pack featuring an 18-minute video and 12-page booklet. It maintains that while approaches may vary, discussion between staff, governors and parents is vital to ensure a clear line, enshrined within a school policy on drugs.

Six short scenarios raise governor awareness of drugs issues in primary and secondary schools, interspersed with comments from professionals. The booklet summarises and extends these observations, identifying governors' responsibilities and providing information on developing drugs policy, although reference to legislation on alcohol and tobacco is missing.

Topics include finding drugs paraphernalia in the playground, the dangers of alcopops, drug-related exclusions, staff use of alcohol and tobacco, and dealing with a solvent-sniffing crisis.

I was alarmed to see no apparent attempt to monitor vital signs and would have liked the booklet to reinforce the police appeal to ascertain what may have been taken (though in this instance it was clear) before medical help arrives. Though written with a London audience in mind, the package encourages all schools to take a pro-active role in addressing drugs issues.

Adrian King

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