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* Approximately 450 children start smoking in the UK every day.
* One in seven 12- to 15-year-olds has tried illegal drugs.
* Nearly half of 10- to 15-year-olds have consumed alcoholic drinks.
* A fifth of the same age have been drunk at least once in the past four weeks.

The statistics are shocking. Most worrying about the recent findings from Ofsted is that these habits are formed in childhood and the early teens. For example, the majority of people who take up smoking do so in adolescence; almost no one starts as an adult.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), as part of its continued commitment to protecting children and families from these dangers, hosted a special Substance Abuse Workshop on the weekend of 13 and 14 December 2008 at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London.

Over 60 parents and children between the ages of 8 and 14 attended the workshop, which was conducted by the London Bus Theatre Company (LBTC), one of the leading Theatre in Education groups in the UK.

The aim of the programme was to raise awareness among both parents and children of the dangers of substance abuse and to provide practical guidance on avoiding them. Substances covered in the workshop included drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Young performers from the Company played out real-life scenarios to educate children on how to behave responsibly in pressurising moments. Many of the actors were youths who had had firsthand experience of such situations and so the lessons they conveyed were especially compelling. They communicated the root cause and contributing factors that lead young people to take harmful substances, and the widespread and long-term consequences of such activity. The interactive nature of the sketches helped to drive home the message very effectively. As LBTC explains, “We have found that if you show something to someone, they usually forget it. If you involve them, they invariably understand it.”

Chris Turner, a trained workshop leader from LBTC, engaged in an eye-opening discussion of the facts surrounding substance abuse. He shared experiences of the Police and vital information about laws and prevention.

The workshop proved to be a powerful revelation into this serious matter and helped educate both parents and children to steer clear of its dangers.

To learn more about the London Bus Theatre Company, click here.

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