Minister for Health Simon Harris T.D., Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne T.D. have today (Wednesday 27 November) launched ‘Know the Score’, a new national resource for teachers of senior cycle students aimed at guiding and supporting them to improve their knowledge and strengthen their skills in dealing with the risks associated with alcohol and drugs.
‘Know the Score’ is the first national evidence-based resource on alcohol and drugs for senior cycle students and was developed in partnership between public health and education professionals, with input from teachers and young people.
Topics addressed include building cultural awareness of attitudes towards alcohol in Ireland, the impact of alcohol on the body and the brain, the influences of alcohol branding and sponsorship and information on how to provide emergency care if they are concerned about someone who has been drinking or taking drugs. The resource also addresses cannabis use and the damage caused by alcohol and drugs to mental health.
Minister Simon Harris said: “I am delighted to launch this excellent resource which represents an important step in our public health approach towards reducing the harms from alcohol and drugs. Know the Score is a good example of the partnership working to promote the health and well-being of our young people, and to support teachers and schools in the important work they do as part of the wider Healthy Ireland agenda.
"Along with a range of other measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, we are driving practical changes in our society in order to ensure that there will be no room for alcohol in Irish childhoods. It is vital that students, teachers and parents get information and supports from trusted resources like the HSE, so that our young people are enabled to develop the important life-skills they need to make healthy choices. It is not appropriate that schools use any materials or resources developed by organisations funded by the alcohol industry.”
Minister Joe McHugh said: “Health chiefs deserve huge credit for taking up the mantle of highlighting the risks of drink and drugs to young people. Education is an important element in promoting health and well-being, along with understanding how society’s attitudes to alcohol has changed.
“I am glad that teachers and students were involved in developing Know the Score as their input is essential if we are to make a success of helping young people to become better informed of the risks associated with substance use. I would encourage teachers to take up the offer of specialist training to support them in the delivery of what can be a complex topic area.”
Minister Catherine Byrne said: "I am delighted to welcome the introduction of ‘Know the Score’; an excellent new and trusted resource for secondary schools which will give students the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices in their lives, and help protect them from the many harms caused by alcohol and drugs.
"Prevention and early intervention are priorities under the Healthy Ireland agenda and the National Drugs Strategy. It is crucially important that we have the right tools and information to reach out and connect with students about the risks and dangers of alcohol and drug use as the decisions they make early on in life can have a significant impact on their future.
‘Know the Score’ was developed by the HSE, working in partnership with teachers and students, supported by a steering group which included representatives from Drug and Alcohol Taskforces. I would like to thank everyone involved and especially the schools that took part in the pilot including Rosary College, Crumlin, who hosted today's launch."
Helen Deely, Acting Assistant National Director, HSE, Health & Wellbeing said: "There are particular risks associated with alcohol and drug use among young people which impacts on their social, emotional and mental health. The key objective of this resource is to support teachers by giving them the materials necessary to provide accurate information to all post primary students. Making students fully aware of the risks associated with alcohol and drug use enables them to make informed decisions."
Aimed at 15-18 year olds, the content is based on research about effective approaches to the prevention of substance misuse. Students and teachers were involved in the design of the 14 lessons and supporting digital content, which aim to facilitate informed discussions about alcohol and drugs in the classroom.
A training programme for teachers will commence in Spring 2020, and the Department of Education and Skills has provided substitution cover for this teacher training. Schools interested in attending the training or viewing a copy of the resource should visit: https://www.hse.ie/knowthescore
Notes to the Editor
1. Although the total amount of alcohol consumed by young people has declined in the last twenty years, it is still a significant public health concern. 74% of 15-16 year olds have tried alcohol, and 28% have engaged in binge drinking.
2. Cannabis use is an increasing cause of concern, with recent studies showing an increase in cannabis use from 7% to 10% over 4 years.
3. In relation to younger drinkers, data from a global study on "Progress in adolescent health and well-being" published in The Lancet in March this year shows that Ireland has the third highest levels of adolescent binge drinking in the world at 61% for females and 58.8% for males.