Researchers who questioned children for a major Department of Health study on everything from their teeth to smoking cannabis didn’t ask them about Class A drugs.
The study, which involved more than 15,000 school children, is supposed to be the most authoritative insight into the health and wellbeing of the country’s children.
The Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2018 report contains responses to questions about alcohol, cannabis and tobacco use.
It even carries responses to questions about how often children brush their teeth or eat sweets.
But there is not one single mention in the report about the exposure to or use of Class A Drugs among schoolchildren.
Researchers have told thethat they didn’t ask them about drugs like cocaine, heroin or ecstasy.
They said this was because of a different study which covers the use of drugs by 16-year-olds, which was last carried out in 2014.
A leading addiction therapist has criticised the lack of any mention of Class A drugs in the HBSC report, which was commissioned by the Department of Health.
Michael Guerin of addiction charity Cuan Mhuire said the fact that children weren’t asked seriously undermines the report.
“It shows that the whole issue of drug use by children is not being treated with the seriousness it deserves,” he said.
There is a bit of a blasé attitude in this country about the issue.
“But not only is it not going away but it will only get worse. The fact that children weren’t asked about Class As detracts from the credibility of this study. It’s absolutely ridiculous to ignore the elephant of teenage drug use in the room.
"They really need to ask about this problem the next time round.”