Sex, drugs and county lines are all under the spotlight in a new education pack for UK schools developed by the leading SW drug, alcohol and social exclusion charity Developing Health and Independence (DHI).
The online harm reduction education package was created in Wiltshire after DHI’s youth services identified escalating issues with drugs in the rural communities where they were working and teachers asked for help navigating those difficult subjects.
After a successful launch as a teaching aid in secondary schools across the county it will now be available to schools across the UK to buy.
While the charity does not condone illegal drug taking it takes a realistic approach to what might be young people’s experimental behavior. So rather than just taking an abstinence based approach the resources aim to ensure young people are better informed about risk taking behaviours, such as sex or drug and alcohol use as well as county lines, with a view to putting them in control of their decisions and minimise risk.
Helen Kerr, assistant head teacher at Wiltshire’s The John of Gaunt School, one of the schools that piloted The Wrap’s education pack, said: “As a leader in a comprehensive school having access to such a useful resource means that we are able to deliver this essential education to our students. We are confident knowing that the knowledge base that underpins The Wrap and these resources mean our students are able to access the most up to date and relevant information empowering them to take control of their decision-making so they remain safe.”
Featuring young actors and developed by young people working with DHI’s youth service in Wiltshire –Connect Young People (formerly DHI Motiv8) in partnership with Wiltshire Council – they explore issues linked to alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, MDMA and exploitation through “county lines” – an increasing concern for police and youth workers.
As well as the up to date information on drugs and alcohol they also tackle other difficult subjects that affect children including relationships and mental health.
From June the educational resources on The Wrap, which are tailored to different year groups, are available nationally for schools to buy as part of their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) National Curriculum and the recently launched Relationship, Health and Sex Education (RSHE).
DHI’s CEO Rosie Phillips explained that the resources were developed in Wiltshire as a response to a growing issue with drugs and county lines. By tackling the issue “upstream” in schools it could help youngsters keep safe and require less intervention in the long run. “It’s essential that young people have access to good quality information, from a trusted source. Our lesson plans were designed to support the national curriculum, so regardless of the level of confidence or knowledge a teacher has, good quality harm reduction information is delivered in an engaging way.
“Our experience of working with young people in the community is that information is everything. When it comes to issues such as sex and drug use, the ‘just say no’ approach is unrealistic. It ignores the fact that risk taking and experimentation is a natural part of growing up.
“The aim of The Wrap is to ensure young people, where ever they are, are better informed – to put them in control of their decisions and help minimise risk. It is online so easily accessible for young people. What The Wrap’s education resources do is to take this straight talking approach into schools placing harm reduction and minimising risk at the centre of a structured discussion.”
Discussion based exercises, which cover Key Stage 3, 4 and 5, look at effects and risk with a focus on how to stay safe. They can be downloaded for a donation of £100 to £150. Any profits from sales will be used to further develop The Wrap and its resources.