Pupils as young as 13 are being told to carry condoms and given advice on how to snort cocaine safely as part of a frank new safety campaign in city schools.
A new credit card-sized Snapfacts book – put together by the council, Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Project and drug advice service Crew – is aimed at 13 to 25-year-olds and provides information and advice on drugs, drinking and safe sex.
It was launched yesterday for S4 pupils at James Gillespie’s High School with other schools expected to follow in the coming months.
Some of the advice includes always carrying condoms, not sharing rolled-up bank notes while snorting cocaine to prevent infection, and trying not to drink alcohol or smoke cannabis when hungover.
The no-holds-barred approach is the best way to keep teenagers safe, said Gael Cochrane, substance misuse development officer for the Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Project, who is spearheading the project.
She said: “Some young people will look things up on the internet but many will not. Without all the facts they are in a more dangerous situation.
“We completely accept there are going to be young people who don’t take drugs or drinks or have sex, and we would support them in that.
“But they are a small group, as are the ones who are taking lots of drugs. It’s the majority who are undecided.”
Ms Cochrane added: “There is a lot of evidence that the more information young people have the less likely they are to do these things.”
Parents have been supportive of the project and were able to take their children out of the sessions if they chose to, said Jeff Warden, pupil support leader at the school in Marchmont.
Mr Warden said: “Listening to the students, they feel that sometimes we are covering ground they have covered before so we need to balance that.”
Edinburgh Tory leader Cameron Rose said: “There are a lot of complicated issues there, but it raises questions about legitimising inappropriate behaviour. It seems inappropriate to be highlighting unwise behaviour.”
S4 students Euan Hamilton and Leora Wadler were among the 200 students taking the sessions. Euan, 15, said: “Normally it’s aimed too low. They assume we don’t hear these things or make jokes with friends about it in class.”
And Leora, 15, added: “I think it was better than anything we normally get. But I think some things we weren’t warned off as much as we should have been.”
Schools can opt in or out of the initiative, which the council hopes will be taken up across Edinburgh.
WHAT IT ADVISES
• If you have had sex without contraception or if you used a condom but it has burst and you don’t want to become pregnant, you need emergency contraception.
• If you decide to have sex, it is important to look after yourself and your sexual partners. Always keep a supply of condoms and use them.
• If you are determined to use, avoid sharing rolled-up bank notes or straws to reduce the risk of getting HIV or Hepatitis C.
• Wash your nose after each session and use vitamin E cream to reduce the damage.
ON HANGOVERS AND COMEDOWNS
• Beware of the urge to re-dose when taking uppers. The more you take the further you have to comedown.
• Your emotions could be up and down. Try not to compensate by drinking or smoking weed.