A Comparison of Drug Knowledge between Upper Primary and Lower Secondary School Pupils in Scotland.
(2016) A Comparison of Drug Knowledge between Upper Primary and Lower Secondary School Pupils in Scotland., no. 29.
Drug abuse is fast developing into a global epidemic costing governments' billions annually. In Europe alone, it is estimated that for every drug induced death, there are twenty to twenty-five non-fatal overdose cases still contributing to the overall morbidity (UNODC 2014). Scotland specifically has been viewed as having the highest population of people using illegal drugs (EMCDDA 2012). The problem is exponentially growing among adolescents and hence measures have to be put into place to tackle the issue. One such method as to how this problem can be solved is through providing adequate education to adolescents on the topic. This study was carried out to compare levels of knowledge primary and secondary school pupils in Scotland have on the use and abuse of drugs, the key objective being to determine whether drug education should be given at a younger age in order to prevent abuse later in life. A self-designed questionnaire was developed to compare this knowledge and distributed to seven schools throughout the country where a total of 246 responses were obtained. The key findings showed that secondary participants scored higher in knowledge-based questions, 24.4% scored full marks in one question compared to 9.4% of primary respondents (p = 0.001). However, they have more alarming perceptions on drugs such as split numbers on whether marijuana was dangerous with 63.7% thinking it was compared with 92.5% of primary respondents perceiving the drug as a potential danger (p = 0.001). The majority of both groups could also not identify that certain illicit drugs are used in some aspects of medicine. An interesting discovery within the study was that the younger primary school participants felt they did not receive enough education (58.5% of respondents), which highlights the need for drug education to be given at a younger age. Many organisations believe that providing adequate levels of information on drugs and how they impact on life will reduce this epidemic (The United Kingdom Focal Point on Drugs 2014; Popescu 2015; NIDA 2016). Findings from this study would support this idea, as it is clear that in Scotland those in secondary school are receiving more thorough drug education in comparison to those in primary school. However, the problem of drug abuse in adolescents is still persistent therefore more drug education needs to be delivered to primary school children as the younger it is given, the less likely they will be to abuse later in life (Guo et al. 2014). As well as this, secondary school pupils should also obtain a more wide-ranged drug education programme aimed at problems which are specific to their generation such as the abuse of marijuana. Keywords: drug knowledge, drug education, adolescents, Scotland