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'School Sermons' Need a Comeback

Researchers have come out in support of old wisdom, in order to deal with teenage pregnancies and substance abuse-major public health challenges// of today.

Improving pupil-teacher relationships and raising a teenager’s self-confidence by changing the very ethos(institutional culture) of a school will do the trick, say the researchers. In this context, they claim superiority of aged principles to newer ones such as focusing on sexual risks ,and attitude to drugs.

The researchers were from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behavior, and they based their report on trials in the US and Australia. These studies had apparently found benefits in involving students and parents in school policies and offering better training for teachers.

The US study revealed a 34 per cent reduction in the use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis among boys, and advantages in how often they had sex, their condom use, violence and truancy.

In the Australian study, measures included displaying schoolwork, encouraging positive feedback, supervising "risky" areas during break-times and increasing the number of school committees.

The researchers rued that schools in the UK and in general, still did not receive detailed guidance on how to improve their ethos.

A survey by the researchers showed a third of 15-year-olds in England has taken illegal drugs in the past year and a quarter of 15-year-old girls smoke.

In conclusion the researchers reported: "Young people who enjoy school and value qualifications are less likely to view drugs, alcohol, or tobacco as more attainable markers signaling the transition to adulthood.

"Young women who feel supported by their schools and confident about their future careers are less likely to view early parenthood as a way of finding meaning and gaining respect from their peers and communities."

A Scottish study gave support to this report by claims that "risky" behavior such as smoking and drinking could be explained by a large school size and a poor school ethos.

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