Children taking drugs ‘is a growing problem’

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CHILDREN smoking cannabis is a growing problem, according to a counsellor at a charity working with young people.

The warning comes as figures in 2013/14 to date show three children, two as young as 15, were referred to services by Portsmouth City Council for cannabis use.

Zari Samiy is a counsellor at children’s support charity Off The Record, in Fratton Road, Portsmouth.

She said the number of young people coming to them with drug problems is increasing.

‘It’s a growing problem – drugs, alcohol and self-harm,’ she said.

‘It’s mainly down to bullying at school, which then effects self-harming and they are going on to drugs and alcohol.

‘Most of my clients have started by being bullied maybe at school or by a family member.’

But Barry Dickinson, from Portsmouth City Council, said the problem is reducing.

He said: ‘They are the youngest we have had.

‘The main issues are around cannabis and alcohol.

‘The numbers are very small and this is a decreasing problem.’

It comes as figures released by councils across the country revealed the youngest age of children to be referred by education and children’s services for specialist alcohol and drug treatment.

Children as young as four were referred for specialist treatment by education and children’s services in south Ayrshire, in Scotland.

And children as young as 12 have been referred by Hampshire County Council for drugs or alcohol use.

The council referred 17 under-18s to services in 2011/12 and 37 in 2012/13.

It said the increase was due to more work by its 
substance misuse provider, Catch22.

When asked yesterday the council could not tell The News where the children were from or what the referrals were for.

Any young people with drug or alcohol problems can call Off the Record, which works in Portsmouth and Havant, on (023) 9281 5322.

Another service called Switch works in the city.

Call them on (023) 9282 5140.