The Precarious Position of Drug Education Workers in Ireland

Clay Darcy

Abstract


This article examines the position of drug education workers who deliver drug education in non-formal education settings to children and young people in Ireland. Employing secondary data and document analysis, the paper analyses three national drug strategies and the annual reports of 21 local and regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces (DATFs), in order to determine the prominence of drug education workers within the statutory response to illicit drug use in Irish society. Drug education has been on the Irish Government agenda since the 1970s; however, drug education continues to remain a small field in Ireland, underfunded and without any national representative voice. This paper argues that drug education in Ireland is becoming subsumed into the formal education sector and positioned primarily within the remit of teachers of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE). Drug education workers who provide educational programmes in non-formal education settings are unacknowledged in Ireland’s most recent national drug strategy and this poses a risk to education programmes that take place in non-formal settings, and diminishes the role of youth and community services/organisations in abating illicit drug use at local and community levels.

Keywords


drug education workers; social policy; Ireland

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