I met virtually today with a group of parents who had lost their children to drugs, and their respective MPs, from a range of political backgrounds.
We heard from different parents and listened to the heartbreaking stories of how their children had accessed and then taken drugs, before passing away. The parents spoke about their children who ranged in age from 13 to 18 when they passed away, and although the stories were varied, the ease that these children accessed illegal substances, came through.
Parents are concerned that social media has a large part to play in children being able to access illegal drugs. Statistics were shared stating that 50 per cent of 13-18 year olds had bought their drugs via social media platforms in 2021, which was up from 33 per cent in 2020. One parent demonstrated in the meeting how easy it was to find information on drugs via social media platforms, and that they are obviously and readily available. Another concern was that illegal raves that could be found advertised on social media were also a platform for drug dealing and drug taking, and that as these spaces are not policed, children taking these substances were even more vulnerable.
The families are looking for support to raise awareness, and to help educate children so they can be enabled to make safer choices about drugs, and stay safe online, which will hopefully go on to save lives in the future. I will be continuing the conversation where I can, raising the matter in Parliament through debates and with Minsters, and I hope that we can work together, to prevent social media acting as a primary market place for drugs, to keep our young people safe from harm.
I would like to extend my thanks to all of those who took part in the discussion, and for sharing their personal accounts.