Action plan tackling drugs and mental health among schoolchildren launched by Tower Hamlets Council
PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 29 October 2019
Six out of every 100 pupils in Tower Hamlets secondary schools have tried drugs, mostly solvents and cannabis, shock figures reveal.
The statistics were revealed at a children's day centre family event launch of the council's five-year strategy for dealing with all child safety issues.
Latest statistics available show 113 youngsters in the East End were having drug and alcohol treatment in 2017-18 and another 259 under 18s were starting treatment, according to the town hall.
The new strategy on how children's services can cope with issues such as dugs in schools, obesity, mental health and lack of career opportunities for school-leavers follows a Tower Hamlets survey.
The response to the survey urged the emphasis "should be on anti-social behaviour and drugs and knife sweeps" to make neighbourhoods safe.
"We are committed to every child being safe, healthy and successful," the council's cabinet member for children Danny Hassell said at the launch.
"This strategy sets out actions we are taking so that every child really does have every chance in life."
He chairs the Children and Families Partnership Board which has come up with three priorities in the strategy that was launched at Bethnal Green's Meath Gardens children's centre family event.
The priorities are to "challenge unsafe behaviours", to tackle health issues by supporting youngsters and to boost education in maths, technology and the sciences to prepare pupils better for their future.
The strategy will be monitored by the children's board working with the Met Police, NHS and voluntary services.
It aims to deal with drug-taking, online bullying, conflict where it arises to prevent problems escalating, to solve the lack of career prospects facing teenagers and to sort out mental health issues at school.
A campaign was launched at Whitechapel's Swanlea Secondary in May urging pupils not be afraid to seek help about mental health. They expressed their views in an exhibition of self portraits and spoken word showing "it's not 'taboo' talking about mental health".
The council, meanwhile, is also making a priority for physical health, having the fourth-highest ratio in London of primary school Year 6 pupils with childhood obesity that affects one-in-four youngsters aged 11 and also one-in-10 five-year-olds in Reception class. Tower Hamlets has 1,039 children in need and 314 subject to a child protection plan.