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Friday Forum behaviour series

Meg Shakesheff, 17, is head girl of Wolverhampton grammar, an independent school. "The message society gives to young people is that ecstasy, heroin, crack, and so on are bad, but that drinking in the pub is sociable. I don't think drink is a particular problem at my school. Some sixth-formers might go out on a Thursday, which is student night in town, but between now and Christmas, any sixth-former who comes in late more than three times will face detention on a Friday.

"In society generally I think there is a problem, because when young people drink it's not so much about being sociable, but more about getting wasted, about escaping from all the hassles, about blanking everything out. Getting paralytic at 14 is almost the norm. It's scary.

"Young people don't understand the dangers of alcohol and I think we need more education in schools, but it's how the message is put across. We have an ex-drug addict who comes into our school to talk to sixth-formers, and it has such an impact because he talks to us on our level.

"Teachers need to have good relationships with pupils if we're going to take the alcohol message on board. The main reason our school is so good is that teachers will say hello to you in the corridor and stop and chat. That makes you think the whole school is working together, that we are all on the same level."

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