Half under-15s have tried illegal drugs reveals survey

Almost half the children under-15 in Northern Ireland have tried illegal drugs, it was revealed as a conference on drug use got underway in Belfast today.

The figure is part of a study undertaken by the Youth Development Study research team at the Institute of Child Care Research which tracked over 3,500 young people in Northern Ireland from their first year of secondary school (aged 11) through to fifth form (aged 16).

The researchers collected information on key aspects of adolescent life including smoking, alcohol and drug use, their friendship networks, relationships with their parents and friends, personality, leisure activities, behaviour problems, attitudes to education and behaviour in school, and the neighbourhood in which they live.

The findings included:
  • At age 11 a clear gender divide existed in smoking, alcohol and drug use, with more boys than girls using. However, as young people grow older this gap narrows.
  • By age 15 more girls smoke than boys (50% versus 42%), and girls are as likely as boys to get drunk or use illicit substances.
  • It is possible to identify subgroups of young people who are at high risk of developing drug related problems. One such group is young people who are excluded from school.
  • There is also evidence of a potentially ‘hidden’ group of young people within schools who report regular and frequent drug use.
Over 150 delegates from schools and youth agencies across Northern Ireland will attend a conference in Belfast today to hear the findings from the study and to discuss the report's implications.

Key speakers include: Professor Sir Michael Rutter (Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London); Dr Eilish Gilvarry (Clinical Director, Northern Regional Drug and Alcohol Service); and Rob Phipps (Northern Ireland Regional Alcohol and Drugs Coordinator, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety).


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

20 September 2021
School Pupils To Be Given CPR Training
All school pupils aged 11 to 14 will receive CPR training starting in the academic year 2022/23, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has announced. Making the announcement, the Minister said: "CPR is a critical and potentially life-saving skill. In Northern Ireland, there are around 1,400 cardiac arrests a year that take place outside hospital.
16 September 2021
Environmental Work Of Primary School Children 'Inspirational' - Poots
Environment Minister Edwin Poots has said that the environmental work of primary school children is "inspirational". Mr Poots made the comments during a joint visit with the Education Minister Michelle McIlveen to an Eco-School.
01 September 2021
Infrastructure Minister Welcomes Completion Of School Safety Improvements
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has welcomed the completion of a scheme to provide enhanced crossing facilities and improve road safety on Holywood Road, Belfast. The Minister met with the pupils and staff from Mitchell House Special School to view the upgraded PUFFIN crossing which is used regularly by the school community.
14 November 2002
One in four of NI's secondary pupils have tried drugs
A report published today by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has revealed that one-in-three secondary school pupils reported having been offered drugs and one in four had tried or used an illicit drug on at least one occasion.
17 July 2002
Hanna praises role of New Deal in securing jobs
A report on the New Deal for 18-24 year olds has revealed that the scheme has made unemployed people aged 18-24 more likely to find a job or secure a place in education and training.