Can you remember the last time you saw a gambling advert? Can you name three different betting shops? Have you ever gambled? I bet you’ve said yes to at least one of those three questions!
Gambling is increasingly all around us. Just think about how many gambling adverts you see when watching a football match or reading a newspaper. Consider how far (or how little!) you need to walk to get to your nearest betting shop or to buy a scratch card.
Gambling can be a sociable and fun activity. However it can also become an addiction, bringing serious consequences for the gambler and affecting their family and friends.
Problem gambling often goes unrecognised. In fact, young people’s gambling has been dubbed a 'hidden addiction.
In 2006, a study carried out by Moodie and Finnigan in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire found a prevalence of problem gambling of 9% among those aged 11 to 16 - a much higher percentage compared to the data found in England and Wales. As the authors stated, gambling in general is commonplace among Scotland’s youth.
Although this remains the most recent survey establishing a baseline rate for problem gambling among young people in Scotland, in the last few years there has been a number of international studies looking at young people’s gambling behaviour.
Overall, literature indicates how important it is to have effective early intervention in place, through educational and prevention programmes for young people. In order to do so, it’s fundamental to offer appropriate training opportunities to practitioners working with young people. Teachers and youth workers are the people best placed to address the topic of problem gambling with young people. Indeed, these practitioners are more likely to meet young people who already have problems with their gambling, particularly if they are working in deprived areas or with young people engaging in other risk-taking behaviours.
Fast Forward, a national youth work charity addressing young people’s health and well-being, has been working since 2014 to promote preventative and educational programmes on youth problem gambling, using a harm reduction approach.
The Youth Problem Gambling Initiative started in April 2014 with a pilot in Edinburgh and the Lothians. This project then received a further two year funding from the Responsible Gambling Trust, which enabled us to offer our training programme across Scotland from January 2016.
Our continual professional development (CPD) sessions support practitioners to acquire the tools and knowledge to prevent the onset of at-risk gambling behaviour among the young people they work with, increasing the availability of information and support.
Training participants also receive a copy of the Youth Problem Gambling Toolkit. This is a new manual, created to support practitioners with information and resources they can use in their work when addressing the topic of youth problem gambling.
In the first six months of this year, we ran 14 training sessions involving a total of 137 practitioners.
The data collected through these sessions highlighted the need for this training. Nearly 18% of attendees said they had previously provided support on problem gambling at least once to young people aged 11-15, and about 45% to young people aged 16-25. However, respondents to our survey reported lacking sufficient knowledge and resources to confidently offer educational activities and effective support on this topic. Our training programme aims to bridge this gap.
We received very positive feedback after each training session, with attendees also expressing how they plan on taking forward the learning.
We are also collecting feedback from those attendees who have started using the toolkit. This will allow us to include practitioner suggestions and ideas in the final version of the toolkit, which we plan to launch online next year.
Would you like to attend a training? Check out our online Eventbrite calendar! We’ll run more CPD sessions in the coming months, including some which will be tailored specifically to teachers. Stay tuned to hear about our future developments!
Chiara Marin is project officer of the Youth Problem Gambling Initiative
Source: TFN, The Voice of Scotland Third Sector
Cover Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images