NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1138952
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Mar
Pages: 23
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1740-2743
"Junkies, Wasters and Thieves": School-Based Drug Education and the Stigmatisation of People Who Use Drugs
Meehan, Claire
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, v15 n1 p85-107 Mar 2017
People who use illicit drugs often experience stigma that manifests in systemic discrimination, marginalisation and social exclusion. Drug education, which is underpinned by the information model, and often includes fear-based tactics. Eleven focus groups were conducted with sixty-six young people (14-16 years old) in ten schools in Northern Ireland. These focus groups elicited an in-depth insight into young people's knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about drugs, drug users, and the drug education they receive in school. Interviews with fourteen teachers were undertaken to determine the content of the schools' drug education, limitations they faced in providing drug education and their attitudes towards people who use drugs. Findings included: teachers often used an information-based approach to drug education; often employing a "shock-horror" approach in an attempt to deter young people from using drugs and becoming drug users, whom the teachers perceived as threatening, dangerous or sick. This type of drug education is ineffective, even counterproductive. Instead of enhancing young people's well-being, the current programme of school-based drug education contributes to the stigma of those who use drugs. This paper suggests ways this situation can be rectified. Recommendations include the application of a harm reduction as a more effective and pedagogically sound way of educating young people about drugs.
Institute for Education Policy Studies. University of Northampton, School of Education, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL, UK. Tel: +44-1273-270943; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A