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Piloted scheme sees awareness of gambling in secondary schools

Lessons to teach Secondary School children about the risks of gambling, and where to go for help and support, has been piloted by cross-party think-tank Demos, with support from GambleAware

Detailing a lack of gambling related education in the nations school curriculum, it was stated that 25,000 UK children are classed as problem gamblers, with around two million adults also at risk of developing a problem.

As part of the scheme, lessons piloted were designed to also teach of tactics used to encourage gambling, the importance of helping others and managing impulses and delayed gratification.

Reaching 650 students in selected schools countrywide, 41 percent of those had gambling participation within the last year, with using money to place bets the most common (21%), followed by playing fruit machines (17%) and playing cards for money (14%).

Dr Jane Rigbye, Director of Education at GambleAware, commented: “There are legitimate concerns about the impact of gambling-related advertising and the normalisation of gambling for children.

“It is in this context, that GambleAware is pleased to have funded this project to explore what may be effective in helping children to understand the nature of gambling and the associated risks, and to become resilient to the harms that can arise.

“We hope the success of this project will support that case for gambling and the risks it poses to be included in the PSHE curriculum in schools in the future.”

Over the course of its 12 month observation period Demos report a decline in pupils playing cards for money, representing a seven percent drop amongst the participating group.

In addition to this a rise in the ability to describe how to help individuals experiencing problem gambling (20%), awareness of where to seek help (18%), ability to describe delayed gratification (11%) and the understanding of encouragement and persuasion techniques (10%).

Simone Vibert, Social Policy Researcher at Demos, said: “Given that young people are routinely taught about the risks of drugs, alcohol and underage sex, the fact that so few are taught about gambling is an anomaly.

“Problem gambling can wreak havoc on people’s lives, not to mention their friends, families and the wider economy. Prevention is clearly preferable to treatment later down the line.  

“These lessons encourage pupils to weigh risk, manage impulses and advise others – all things that can help prevent problem gambling and other risky behaviour too.

“We therefore call upon the Government and schools to use these resources to help develop the skills and resilience of pupils, confident in the knowledge that they have been proven to make a difference.”

An individual who participated in the study added: “At first gambling seemed like quite a rare thing but we didn’t realise how easy it is to get addicted. And how bad it could be, but we learnt that I think.”

Over 100 schools have since expressed an interest in taking part, signalling the need to raise significant awareness of the risk posed to young people.

The results have since been submitted to the government as part of a consultation into PSHE lesson content, with both Demos and GambleAware highlighting the need to include gambling-related harm when teaching children about risky behaviours.