Schools in the UK teaching teens about gambling

The Department of Education in the UK has declared gambling to be a compulsory subject in the curriculum for teenagers

Gambling snuck into our daily routines and due to it being promoted so often, it is easily accessible and a constant in our present lives. Our teenagers are the most vulnerable group in this aspect, as they are not immune to its appealing power.

Furthermore, there is a growing number of children who are becoming addicted; a problem that has been detected worldwide.

The Department of Education in the UK has declared gambling to be a compulsory subject in the curriculum for teenagers. Starting next Autumn, following the initial pilot programme from 2018, students will be taught how to approach gambling, how to recognizes its potentially harmful impact on the human psyche and behaviour, and addiction.

The purpose of introducing this new subject into teenagers’ curriculum

Nick Gibb, the UK Schools Minister, announced that the new compulsory curriculum will, as an integral part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education program, educate teenagers at schools about gambling in general, especially about the harm of addiction and the debt-related aspect of gambling. It will begin in September, with the aim being to ensure that every child understands the risks.

Previous attempts of similar projects

In 2018, a two-year pilot education program was developed by Demos. It was aimed at teaching pupils in Secondary schools to get to know the nature of gambling and the related risks, as well as how to avoid potential harm, manage impulses, estimate risk and recognise problems present in friends and colleagues and how to advise and support them. 650 teenagers, aged 14, took part in the program.

The program found that their favourite gambling activities were betting, playing fruit machines, cards for money… the list goes on. The real issue here is that the children were not then, neither are they today, aware of the related risks. A great deal of the surveyed claimed that in their opinion, gambling is not a threat and they do not consider it to be a dangerous activity.

Following the first year, according to Demos, the number of pupils who played cards for money decreased by 7% and the number of pupils at risk, who said that they were involved in 4 or more gambling activities, like Online Casino, decreased by 3%.

The results are encouraging, however, according to a study by the UK Department of Education, there are 55,000 children who are problem gamblers, some of whom are just 11 years old; a statistic that raises many red flags.

The concern for our young population is justified and thus, we must all be aware of our responsibility in raising them to be healthy, engaged, motivated and respectful adults and members of our community.

In addition to the aforementioned studies, there are other behaviours that certainly deserve our attention. Hence the reason as to why the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education program will be “equipping pupils with a sound understanding of risks and knowledge, to make safe and informed decisions on adult matters, related to drug education, financial management, sex and relationships, and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle”.

The program will also disseminate information regarding available treatments for those who require aid with their gambling problems, as well as useful hints about where and how to get support.

Chief Executive of GambleAware, an independent, grant-making charity, emphasised that “very few teenagers have actually been taught about the risk associated with gambling and what the signs of problem gambling are.”

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