The Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives campaign is highlighting the work of drugs action teams. Today reporter HAZEL ETTIENNE looks at what is being done to help young children affected by drug use at home.
PRIMARY school children are learning about the effects of drug misuse in the home.
The subject has recently been introduced in an optional lesson as part of the already successful Kirklees drugs education programme called Spiced.
Cllr Khizar Iqbal, chair of Kirklees Safer Communities Partnership, said: "This programme is part of a much broader strategy to tackle drugs misuse on all fronts to make our children, young people and neighbourhoods safer."
Cllr Jim Dodds, Cabinet Member for Kirklees Council Children's Services, said: "The focus of this work is on prevention rather than cure.
"It reflects a sensible approach to advising children about substance misuse and actively encourages the involvement of their parents and carers."
In the new lesson, pupils discuss a fictitious family. They are made aware of the support available to both children and adults affected by drug use.
Teachers have been trained to identify potentially vulnerable children and some pupils take part in additional small group work with specialist staff.
Val Flintoff, Kirklees Drugs Education Adviser, said: "The Spiced programme enables children to develop their knowledge, attitudes and understanding about drugs and appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
"This new, optional, lesson deals with a difficult and sensitive subject and teachers need to decide if it is suitable for their pupils.
"However we do know that children living in homes where drug use is a problem need to feel supported.
"This offers schools a chance to address that in an appropriate manner."
The Spiced programme, which was revised in 2002, was developed by Kirklees Learning Service in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and local primary care health trusts.
Pupils aged 10 and 11 learn about the effects of drugs on the body, the consequences of taking them, assessing risk, the law and the risks of breaking it, and assertiveness skills.
Parents and carers participate in the programme, and are invited to attend the first lesson. They are also encouraged to support their children and discuss the issues raised in homework assignments.
Ten lessons are taken by teachers, school nurses and police officers. They all undertake two days of training on drugs awareness and how to deliver the programme.
Will Formby, Planning and Commissioning Coordinator, Young People, Kirklees Drug Action Team, said: "It is vitally important to equip children from an early age with the confidence and skills to deal with situations where drugs may be available so they have a better understanding about the effects and risks."
An independent evaluation found the Spiced programme was a model of good practice and parents said it made them feel more comfortable discussing drugs with their children.