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Friday Forum behaviour series

Professor Raj Persaud is a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley hospital and senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. "Schools need to have a system for detecting whether children have been drinking because, unless they are seen with drink in school, or they are obviously hung over, staff often won't pick up on it. High on the index of suspicion would be if children are turning up late; falling asleep in class; looking ill; complaining of headaches; uninhibited or overly familiar.

"If teachers think there is a problem, then they have to persuade the child that there is a link between alcohol and what's going on in their lives.

Young people do not always see this. They tend only to see the 'positives'

of drinking. They need to see that there is a clear set of consequences and sanctions.

"Staff also need to find out why a child is drinking; whether peer group pressure is the cause, in which case the school should address the group; or whether a child is drinking because they are depressed, stressed or because they have learnt their drinking habits from alcoholic parents. If there is a history of alcohol abuse within the family, that is much more difficult to tackle because there's no point in dealing with the child without also dealing with the parents."

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