Are We Just Patching Up The Problem?

child wearing nicotine patch

Modern life is amazing right? It’s full of technical marvels and the once massive and mysterious world we see before us is rapidly getting smaller through advances in technology and transportation. We can surf the internet, board a plane and cross the world in a matter of hours and speak to people through video conferencing on the other side of the planet in real time. We only have to look back 100 years or so and it was clear things were very different. People lived and worked in their local town or village, you could only read the news from the local newspaper and children played outside with their friends.

baby shave in mirror

It’s a fact of life; children of modern times are crossing that passage from being a child to adulthood at a much more accelerated rate…or at least in their experiences and mental attitude anyway. Children used to have a special bond and a connection with nature and their innocence was what distinguished themselves from the corrupt and dangerous world around them. It seems the pressures of the modern world are eroding childhood and in essence what it means to be a child. They are subjected to increasing commercial pressures, start formal education a lot earlier and spend their free time glued to a computer screens. It seems the days where a child could be protected though controlled education and information is a distant memory – the internet for all its good means access to information is very easily obtained. We often hear that knowledge is a good thing and for the most part yeah this is true but what we have to ask ourselves is to what degree? We can’t just single handily point the finger at the proliferation of the digital world however, sure this may have exposed our children to adult content that otherwise they would have not have exposed too but there is more to the equation. We have also witnessed a shift in social values and attitudes and the latest permissive parenting approach warrants this kind of behaviour.

The latest story surrounding the attrition of childhood is centred on children that are as young as 12 being handed nicotine patches in schools by the NHS without the permission of their parents. These patches are being distributed by an NHS nurse who visits the schools around every 2 weeks to speak to the children in confidence.

smoking not cool poster

For the people reading this the first thing that they are most likely to find most shocking is the fact that the parents had not been informed….however the first thought that entered my head was “Why are children of 12 and nicotine patches even being used in the same sentence?” Seriously why? Children as young as 12 should not be smoking full stop. Many blame peer pressure as the primary cause but surely it has more underlining issues? If children still think that smoking is cool and are bullying others who don’t conform to their misguided values then we have failed as a nation to educate them properly.

We also have a problem between patient and doctor (nurse in this case) confidentiality. We can blame the parents all we want for not taking action and educating their children properly but if they are kept out of the loop and have no knowledge of their child smoking what do you suppose they do? NHS guidelines state that children as young as 12 can have access to nicotine patches from chemists and GPs throughout the country. Do these guidelines need to be re-amended? It seems whatever the answer the children of this country lose. We can stop giving out these patches to children of such a young age, but this will mostly likely just mean the child will continue to smoke or we can provide the patches which in a way is accepting that no matter what we do this will happen so let’s just chuck some nicotine patches out there and hope that solves the problem.

As stated earlier there are several problems that need to be addressed and tackled to solve this complex issue. While I would rather a child be using a nicotine patch then be actually smoking a cigarette I feel it is still unacceptable. What do you think? Do you think that patches should be available to a child of 12 or do you think parents should be made aware of the issue so they can deal with the problem themselves?

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