It’s enough to make any parent panic, but new data reveals one in ten UK teenagers has experimented with hard drugs.

A new survey found the one in ten statistic for 17-year-olds, who tried drugs such as ketamine and cocaine.

This list of hard drugs included cocaine, acid, ecstasy, speed, ketamine and any other psychoactive substances.

The University College London research found nearly a third of 17-year-olds had tried cannabis. More than half of those surveyed also admitted to binge-drinking alcohol.

The Millennium Cohort Study looked at almost 20,000 young people. They were all born between 2000 and 2002.

Drug-use rates were higher among white teens than black teens.

The survey also asked about other anti-social behaviours. When asked if they had assaulted someone over the previous 12 months, a quarter of 17-year-olds said they had. This includes shoving, slapping or punching another person.

This figure of one quarter is an improvement from when the survey was last done when the participants were 14. The number has fallen by seven percentage points.

Another similar study found similar rates of alcohol consumption, but slightly higher rates of cannabis use. That research examined Britons born in the late 1980s when they were teenagers.

The Office for National Statistics says that overall drug use among 16-24-year-olds in 2020 was much lower than it was in the late 1990s.

The Millennium Cohort Study is intended to record a “detailed portrait of the children of the new century”.

This latest research was carried out between 2018 and 2019 when the participants were 17-years-old.

Vandalism and weapon use figures were similar to when those questioned were 14. However, shoplifting saw an increase from 4% in early adolescence to 7% at 17.

White vs BAME

Despite many clichés shared by racist groups, hard drug use was twice as prevalent among white teenagers than BAME teens.

Binge-drinking was almost three times higher.

11% of white teenagers reported using harder drugs compared with 5% for BAME teens. For binge-drinking is was 59% of white teenagers, compared with 21% of BAME teenagers.

For the gender divide, cannabis use, hard drug-taking and binge-drinking were considerably higher for young men than women.

Emla Fitzsimons from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, who co-authored the study, said: “Experimental and risk-taking behaviours are an expected part of growing up.”

“Nevertheless, behaviours in adolescence can be a cause for concern as they can have adverse long-term consequences for individuals’ health and wellbeing, and their social and economic outcomes.”

Social And Economic

The children of graduate parents were more likely to report alcohol use and binge drinking than those whose parents did not have degrees.

There was no real difference between drug use, between the two groups.

UCL’s Aase Villadsen said she was surprised how the findings showed “the peak in anti-social behaviours in this generation has been reached earlier than usual and rates have already started to come down by age 17”.

“This is a positive and will potentially help to improve the future social and economic prospects of Generation Z,” said Dr Villadsen.

Prof Fitzsimons added: “It remains to be seen how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected engagement in these behaviours.

Do these figures surprise you?

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