Addictive behaviours in children can have a “disastrous” impact on their mental and physical health and their development, PACE has pointed out, urging innovative new policies to prevent early addiction, more research, increased cooperation with the digital industry, bans on the sale of psychoactive substances and alcohol to children, as well as limiting their access to online gambling.
“Children are vulnerable to addictions, as they are at a stage when their personality is being formed. They are thus in need of particular protection, on the part of their parents, professionals working with them, as well as political decision-makers. In the light of the current lack of responsiveness or the inadequacy of policies to combat this scourge, it is necessary for States to step up research on prevention and innovative prevention practices,” the Assembly said in a resolution, based on a report by Diana Stoica (Romania, ALDE).
Council of Europe member States should develop comprehensive prevention policies including innovative mechanisms involving children and young adults in dialogue with their peers, as well as training for adults working with children. They should co-operate closely with the digital industry, so as to prohibit the sale of psychoactive substances and alcohol to children and child access to online gambling and betting, as well as any form of online advertising of these substances and offers of gambling and betting to children.
The Assembly also recommended that the Committee of Ministers and the Pompidou Group – the Council of Europe’s expert body for combating drug abuse – conduct studies on the use of cannabis among children, on behavioural addictions facilitated by online technologies and on the prevalence of the use by children of new psychoactive substances.