Comparison of Drug Knowledge Between Upper Primary and Lower Secondary School Pupils
(2016) Comparison of Drug Knowledge Between Upper Primary and Lower Secondary School Pupils, no. 33.
Background: There is a gap in the literature regarding drug education within Scottish Primary and Secondary Schools. Although a wide variety of substances are included in the teaching guidelines of the Curriculum for Excellence; alcohol and tobacco use take main priority. However, illegal drug use at a young age can have serious consequences later on in life and the abuse of legal drugs such as over-the-counter analgesics and prescription medications is becoming a common normality. Aims: To compare the knowledge of upper Primary and lower Secondary school pupils regarding legal and illegal drugs. Design: A self-created questionnaire consisting of 12 quantitative and qualitative questions. Four questions consisted of right and wrong answers regarding legal and illegal drugs, the most abused drug, medical purposes and street names for marijuana to access knowledge, while others related to peer pressure, sources of information and the effects of drugs on day to day life. Results: Secondary school pupils were significantly more able to distinguish between illegal and legal drugs compared to Primary pupils (p<0.001). Both participating groups were unaware that prescription medicines are the second most abused drug. Medicines were known by more Secondary than Primary pupils (p<0.001) but paracetamol and antibiotics were unknown by 9% of Primary participants. Drug knowledge was rated significantly lower for Primary than Secondary school pupils (5 to 7). Further, 94% of Primary school participants thought marijuana was dangerous compared to 63% of Secondary pupils who were more conversant with the street names of marijuana. Participants drug knowledge sources for Primary Verses Secondary show strong significance for parents, teachers and television (p≤0.05) and friends were a higher source of drug knowledge for males compared to females (p≤0.05). Primary school pupils rated peer pressure significantly higher than Secondary (6 to 4) and females are more pressured than males to take drugs from friends (p≤0.05). Secondary school pupils were more aware of all aspects of life drugs can affect (p<0.001) and 63% regarded their drug education as sufficient compared to 43% of Primary Pupils. Conclusion: Secondary school pupils had greater overall drug knowledge compared to Primary school pupils which could be accredited to the different substance topics covered by either classroom or qualified personal and social education teachers. Drug education incorporating both illegal and legal drugs at earlier years may improve knowledge. Schools and parents should encourage parent-child communication regarding drugs rather than unreliable sources. Key Words: Schools, Scotland, Drugs, Education, Knowledge, Awareness