A city councillor has raised concerns over “very alarming” figures which show almost half of 11 to 15 year olds in Dundee have used drugs in the past year.
At a meeting of the children and families services committee held Monday night, councillors heard that more than 40% of young people aged between 11 and 15 in the city have reported using substances in the previous 12 months.
Addressing the figures, Labour councillor Charlie Malone expressed his unease at the number of young people in Dundee who admit to using substances.
I saw nothing about how we intend to look at the occurrence of drug and substance taking in our schools and how we go about targeting that area in particular.”
Councillor Charlie Malone
He said: “We have been given a series of indicators of the issues that are facing young people and I was drawn to the substance misuse.
“It says over 40% of young people aged 11 to 15 years report using substances in the previous 12 months.
“Given the absolute crisis of drugs in the city, that struck me as being very, very alarming.”
Councillor Malone also raised concerns over what measures were being undertaken at a local level to address substance misuse in young people across the city, highlighting the report only mentioned the development and implementation of “regional strategies”.
He said: “Is it really that we are just going to be contributing to regional policies and programmes given that we clearly have a crisis in our schools if 40% of young people are reporting taking substances?
“I saw that we were going to be measuring the activity of school kids in terms of exercise and food.
“But I saw nothing about how we intend to look at the occurrence of drug and substance taking in our schools and how we go about targeting that area in particular.”
Responding to councillor Malone’s concerns, Glyn Lloyd – Acting Head of Service, Children’s Service and Community Justice – outlined that local strategies were being implemented to deal with substance use in young people.
He said: “We are making a contribution to the substance misuse issue as part of our action plan under the Drugs Commission.
“There is two strands to this. The first one involves our working relations with children and families where we are working with health colleagues to target substance misuse and support families where that is an issue.
“Secondly is our working relationship with prevention where we are developing support within each of the secondary schools.”
Audrey May, Chief Education Officer at Dundee City Council, added that more in depth data regarding the misuse of substances by young people should available next year which would held address these issues.
She said: “We have agreed to be an early adopter of the national health and wellbeing survey for young people.
“Dundee will be carrying that out early in the new year for all of our pupils in our second year cohorts, looking at substance misuse and trying to get more up to date data.
“This very much includes gaining a better understanding of young people, right down to community level, and of their use or misuse of substances.”