Pubdate: Sun, 17 Oct 2004
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2004 Allied Newspapers Limited
Bookmark: (Youth)


TEACHERS had the critical role of imparting information and educating 
students about making the right choices and learning to deal with peer 
pressure in avoiding addictions, Education Minister Louis Galea said.

Speaking during a Sedqa presentation of addictions prevention material to 
be used in schools during this scholastic year, the minister said that 
European surveys of 16-year-olds were showing a lower rate of drug abuse by 
Maltese youths compared to their European counterparts.

This, the minister said, had to be a direct effect of the investment in 
prevention work that had been going on for many years.

Dr Galea said that with more effort the momentum in favour of educating 
against drugs could give further results but this depended heavily on 
ensuring that this prevention material reached all students. The 
presentation was made by Joe Gerada, chief executive officer of the 
Foundation for Social Welfare Services.

He said Sedqa was as committed as ever to prioritise students as the major 
target group for prevention and to ensure that the material produced was up 
to date and relevant to the changing environment of youths' culture.

He said that as from next year Sedqa would be producing its material 
through the Internet in an interactive manner.

Mr Gerada said that this did not only blend better with current youth 
trends but was actually cheaper to produce and more accessible as this 
material could be downloaded from homes.

He said that further investment would be made in this respect, particularly 
the creation of a chat room on the Internet where youths could discuss 
various issues related to addictions with Sedqa professionals. This would 
further enhance their knowledge and capacity to take the right decisions.

Prevention team manager Paul Pace said that all material was based on facts 
and reflected the latest thinking on the subject as well as up-to-date 
information about addictions.

The agency, he said, would also be laying more emphasis on alcohol abuse as 
this was still high compared to other European countries.

He attributed this to a lax alcohol attitude and said that the current 
practice of binge drinking was worrying and the health implications would 
be felt in a few years.

Therefore while Sedqa did not advocate abstinence for adults, it insisted 
that the alcohol age limit should be raised to 18 and those who intended to 
drive should not drink at all.
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