Just what are we doing to our children?

Two alarming sets of statistics about the health of our young people have just been published in response to Liberal Democrat parliamentary questions.

The prescription by doctors of anti-depressants and other mind-aletring drugs among schoolchildren has more than quadrupled in the past decade. And the number of children aged 15 and under being admitted to A&E departments with alcohol-related problems rose to nearly 4,000 in 2005-6.


Yet Hertfordshire County Council Youth Service is providing a meagre and skeletal range of activities for young people locally.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, GPs are prescribing pills to under-16s in record numbers.  We seem to have gone from a period when it was almost unthinkable to prescribe drugs to a child to amend their behaviour to a time when it is quite the norm.  We should be creating a more stable and supportive environment for young people, not just seeking to solve their problems by prescribing pills.

Separate figures show how out of control binge-drinking has become in this country.  62% of those admitted to A&E departments for the toxic effects of alcohol are girls.  It causes unfair pressure on A&E departments, creates serious public disorder concerns in our village and city centres, and leads to long-term health problems.

We have to crack down on shops which sell alcohol to underage children - in my own village the transfer of the local convenience store to Tesco ownership has dramatically improved matters.  But supermarkets are in part to blame by selling alcohol at rock bottom prices. 

We've just had the huge pleasure of hosting some charming Norwegian scouts prior to the World Scout Jamboree.  All my children have done scouting or guiding.  It has been a privilege for them, but it is so dependent on hard-working volunteers.  That is why it is so sad that the Government and County Council talk big but don't deliver.

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