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Police search for man who allegedly supplied MDMA to children amid declining drug use in young people

An investigation continues.

Meanwhile, drug use among young Australians has decreased since 2001, says a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which surveyed 22,274 respondents and which was released last week.

Matt Noffs, chief executive of the Ted Noffs Foundation, says improved health messaging is a key factor in the declining use of drugs among young people.

Matt Noffs, chief executive of the Ted Noffs Foundation, says improved health messaging is a key factor in the declining use of drugs among young people.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

In 2001, 38 per cent of 14- to 19-year-olds had used illicit drugs at some point in their lives, but in 2019 only 22 per cent had.

The report also found that the average age for young people to take illicit drugs for the first time had increased, with the average age reported by 14- to 29-year-olds in 2019 to be 17.3, compared with 15.9 in 2001.

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Chief executive of the Ted Noffs Foundation, Matt Noffs, said among the key factors in the declining use of drugs among young people were improved health messaging and a community shift from seeing drug use as a criminal issue to seeing it as a health issue.

The foundation provides support for young people with drug and alcohol issues.

“It is young people that older people should be looking up to. They are the healthier and safer generation,” he said.

But Mr Noffs said the coronavirus pandemic could have severe consequences on drug and alcohol use and urged the state and federal government to continue providing financial support, funding for treatment services and educational programs for young people.

Founder of parenting website Happy Families, Justin Coulson, said talking about drugs with children could be uncomfortable, but it was important to start the conversations early.

He recommended asking open-ended questions about what was happening at the child’s school, such as how much other children spoke about drugs, then focusing the questions on the child’s experiences and those of their peer group.

The next step was for the parent to explain their expectations and empower the child to make their own decisions, Dr Coulson said.

But he said, at the end of the day, parents and guardians “need to delineate limits where appropriate to make sure kids are safe and healthy”.

Anyone with information about the Terrigal incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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