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Preliminary results from the Health & Lifestyle Study in Children (HLSC) 1 March 2006

    The Health & Lifestyle Study in Children took place in Island schools during November 2005 and was aimed at Year 6 (10/11 years), Year 8 (12/13 years) and Year 10 (14/15 years).School kids

    This survey contained a number of questions relating to alcohol, illicit drugs and smoking and first impressions from the Year 6 results suggest that the students are better informed than those surveyed in 2003.

    As the purpose of this ongoing research is to use the results to target resources and focus work with children and the community, the partners involved are pleased that the strategies are continuing to produce positive results that can influence good practice.

    (The partners in this instance are the Department of Education, the Chief Secretary's Office and the Department of Health and Social Security.)

    Headline results show that the messages are continuing to have the desired effect on the majority of youngsters on the Island but the agents cannot afford to be complacent in their efforts and there is still further work to do in ensuring parents understand their role in these matters and that continued research and information is undertaken to give a holistic picture over time.

    Smoking has been a hot topic of conversation in all media recently and it would appear that the message is getting through - 96% of the students surveyed thought that cigarettes were bad for them compared with 90% from the previous study in 2003.

    Drinking alcohol makes people more aggressive or violent according to 83% of those surveyed - 11% more than previously. The reasons for the increase in perception of the effects of alcohol offers further areas for discussion with the youngsters themselves. Parental responsibility also plays a major part in childrens attitudes and behaviour.

    Results surrounding the issues of illicit drugs matched those of similar surveys conducted previously and these were consistent through the questions posed - 91% agreed it was not OK to use drugs even if used carefully and 94% didn't think they would be likely to use drugs in the future. Volatile substance abuse remains one of the worrying factors on the Island hence the focus on this area in the updated Drug and Alcohol Strategy.

    Dr Andreea Steriu, HLSC Co-ordinator said: "This is a positive stance even compared to the survey conducted 2 years ago. During the past few years there has been a major focus on education surrounding these issues in all schools. Whilst the percentages may not be hugely different for some of the questions these preliminary results show that the messages are still getting through to the youngsters which is encouraging when one considers the opportunities now available to them. Hopefully they (the students) will retain these attitudes and these will become established in their way of life."

    1st March 2006

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