Help us to fight drugs;Letter;News amp; Opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
KAY SMITH'S article ("Drugs lessons not heeded", TESS, November 19) highlights the challenges which the statutory agencies - social work, education, the NHS and the police - and their non-statutory partners face in responding to teenagers' drug use.

No single professional, profession or agency has a monopoly in the identification and response to problems of drug misuse. The situation has been and remains that professional agencies must work together if we are to be effective in our responses.

"Responses" in the plural because we have to proceed on a number of different fronts simultaneously, modifying our approach to what works for particular groups, not only as far as drugs education is concerned, in relation to where and how to educate, but also who should be the educators - peers, police or classroom teacher.

As for those who are of school age and who allegedly are not being identified, we have twin strategies in Edinburgh to do just that: Working Together - an update of the former youth strategy pioneered in this city - and the recent drugs strategy published by the Edinburgh Drug Action Team (EDAT).

The former helps identify children at risk and means of support; the latter clearly acknowledges growing concern about young people's drug use. EDAT, in which both social work and education are active participants, has begun to address the issues involved and the need for services.

To this end, we have supported the development of two new pilot projects in the city for young people under 16 who use drugs, in conjunction with our professional partners.

It would be more constructive for the contributors to your article to express their views and concerns and any evidence of drug misuse by school-age youngsters to EDAT so that we can work together on this.

Les McEwan Director of social work and chair of Edinburgh Drugs Action Team Roy Jobson Director of education, Edinburgh

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