Jump to content

Sex, drugs and fact-finding... Pupils sent on 'daft' school trip to Amsterdam's red l


Recommended Posts

It is a tour which is guaranteed to show the seamier side of life in Amsterdam.



The itinerary includes a trip to a "cannabis college" and the red-light district where prostitutes sit in windows advertising their wares.




Hardly the usual sort of trip undertaken by children aged between 14 and 16 - funded by taxpayers' cash.



The three-day jaunt to the Dutch city, whose coffee shop customers can smoke cannabis without fear of prosecution, was yesterday condemned as an "appalling abuse" of public money.


It involves 20 teenagers, 16 of whom attend the Helena Romanes School, a comprehensive in Great Dunmow, Essex.



Three other teenagers work and one is home tutored. All 20 met through Dunmow youth centre and have each contributed £20 towards the cost of the trip. A £3,000 grant from the Government's Youth Opportunity Fund should pay the rest of the bills.



The visit has been organised by Essex County Council's youth service to help children discover how the Dutch tackle drugs, alcohol and sexual health issues.



They will travel to Amsterdam on April 7 with youth workers, a community police officer and four sexual health nurses to compare the different ways that Britain and Holland treat the subjects.



Linda Barnes, the youth worker organising the trip, said: "Holland has the lowest teenage pregnancy in Europe, whereas in the UK we are approaching the worst.



"The same is true of drugs and alcohol. The UK's problems are well publicised, but in Holland it is nowhere near as bad. The idea is to compare the two countries to find out if there is anything we can learn from one another."



The council has reassured parents that youngsters will not be allowed into cafes where drugs are bought and consumed openly, but they will tour the red-light district.



"We will take them along those streets so they can see how open it is over there," said Miss Barnes.


"Some of them thought initially they would be having a wild time, but they will find out Holland is in some ways more restrictive."


The "cannabis college" which the group will visit is an information centre which features a cannabis garden, a sexual health clinic and a police station.



Nick Gibb, Tory schools spokesman, said: "This is an appalling abuse of public money. There is a very serious risk that this trip could educate the children in the seedier side of life.



"They should be touring the harbour and go to the Anne Frank museum but definitely not be seeing the red-light district."



Peter Stoker, director of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said there was a danger that the trip could glamorise drug-taking.



2Or it could normalise it and teenagers would say, 'Here we are in a big city and nobody seems to be too bothered about it'.


"The answer is that the people who go there are not bothered about it but most people vote with their feet and go somewhere else.



"If they wanted to show Amsterdam in all its tackiness, they could do that through a film in the classroom rather than making it a jolly. The money being spent on this trip could be spent in much better ways, on drug prevention activities."



A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said yesterday: "Our policies are designed to improve the well-being of young people by giving them opportunities to take part in rewarding activities.



"But this visit appears to be an inappropriate use of money and we are following this up with Essex County Council."



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...