Children who fail to attend school are much more likely to be
regular smokers, drinkers and drug-takers, new research has
Pupils who have truanted are seven times more likely to have
smoked (35 per cent compared to 5 per cent) and just over half 11
to 15-year-olds who missed lessons without permission had consumed
alcohol, compared to less than a fifth of non-truants.
The survey, commissioned by the Department of Health, also found
that more than a third of truants said they had taken drugs in the
last month, compared to 6 per cent who had not played truant.
The findings have been released as part of the full results of
the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Misuse Among Young People in England
in 2002 survey, which questioned 10,000 pupils at 321 English
When considering the effect of household income on the behaviour
of children, the survey found that pupils who received free school
meals were more likely to be regular smokers than those who did not
(14 per cent compared to 10 per cent).
They were also slightly more likely to have used drugs in the
last month (13 per cent compared to 11 per cent). But they were
less likely to have drunk alcohol in the last week (22 per cent
compared to 25 per cent).
The percentage of all 11 to 15-year-olds who had taken drugs
decreased from 20 per cent in 2001 to 18 per cent in 2002.
But while the number of girls who said they had taken drugs in
the last month fell from 11 per cent to 9 per cent, for boys the
figure remained unchanged at 12 per cent.