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Reports Show Fewer Children Drinking and Prevention Education Working

Dec. 16, 2016

LONDON, 16 DECEMBER 2016 – A recently published report by the Scottish Government showed that prevention education focussing on a life course approach can be effective in changing children’s outlook to alcohol and drugs. The report immediately follows a national survey by the NHS (Health Survey for England), which showed a steep decline in rates of children smoking and drinking.

Together, these reports demonstrate a fully considered approach to changing behaviour at a young age, such as Mentor's Good Behaviour Game, is much more effective than old-fashioned methods of trying to shock children about the consequences of taking alcohol and other drugs.

The Scottish Government report concluded, "Evidence suggests that wider programmes that are delivered in schools, which target multiple risk behaviours, help build self-esteem and life skills are more likely to be effective in preventing drug use. This suggests a departure from drug specific education. Generic programmes, such as the Good Behaviour Game, which do not focus on drug/substance use, can be effective in reducing substance use and other problematic behaviours in the long term."

The Health Survey for England showed only 16 percent of children aged 8 to 15 reported having experience of drinking alcohol. This is the lowest level ever reported; down from 45 percent in 2003.

Heather McVeigh, Scotland Director for Mentor said, "These encouraging reports appear to buck the common perception that levels of, for example, drinking, among children is high and little can be done about it. Mentor’s patient and systematic approach to preventing risky behaviour is now yielding results, which will help a great many families avoid problematic use."

Mentor's work was also highlighted this week with a report by ITV Granada where primary school children in the North West learned about how to avoid risk from tablets and medicines. Mentor's Chief Executive, Michael O'Toole said to ITV, "What we believe works is following a life course approach. What underpins this is finding a way in which we can develop young people's life skills and, their resilience to drugs and alcohol problems that they may face at some point in their life. What doesn't work is trying to scare people from drugs and also trying to give them information on what drugs are and what they’ll do and, then expecting them to make some kind of informed decision."

SOURCE: Mentor

Notes for Editors

  1. Mentor is the UK’s leading charity working to prevent the misuse of alcohol and drugs among children and young people. They run evidence-based programmes in a variety of settings for different groups of young people. Mentor developed ADEPIS, the leading source of alcohol and drug education resources for schools, and now maintains the CAYT repository of impact studies of evidence-based programmes. Their Good Behaviour Game programme piloted in the North West was highlighted this week in an ITV Granada Report Ecstasy: Knowing the Dangers.
  2. National Statistics Health Survey for England, 2015 can be found here:
  3. Scottish Government report ‘What works’ in drug education and prevention? Can be accessed here:  The survey sample in 2015 contained 5,714 children.
  4. Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "It is welcome that underage drinking continues to decline and is now at its lowest recorded level. This indicates … life skills education and programmes to tackle underage drinking are having a real impact."
  5. If you wish to interview Mentor CEO Michael O’Toole, or for any press enquiries please contact: or 07932 639797 or Jeremy Sare on 07747 727993.

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