VSU and the media
The media is a significant shaper of community attitudes and political responses to alcohol and other drug issues (National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006). In the case of preventing volatile substance use (VSU), the media has a critical role to play.
The way the media reports VSU incidents can have significant impact. Irresponsible or uninformed reporting can have an 'advertising' effect, potentially promoting copycat behaviour, particularly among young people. It can also stigmatise the user and potentially encourage the commencement of VSU by increasing awareness. The media should be encouraged to respond to VSU in a responsible manner at all times.
Balanced against this is the community’s right to a free press, to stories of interest and to know what’s happening in their community. Similarly, agencies have the right to work with the media to initiate social change and/or inform the public debate.
Well-targeted local publicity and information campaigns can help address problems associated with VSU and assist in garnering support for local projects (National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006). On the other hand, inappropriate media coverage can cause local hysteria about the issue and cause or escalate local outbreaks of use by raising young people’s awareness of inhalable products or inhalation methods (National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006).
For more information about VSU and the media, see the following pages of this website:
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Drug and Alcohol Office, WA. Information booklet for media regarding the reporting of volatile substance use.
Department of Human Services. Victoria. National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce. Considers existing initiatives, programs and strategies to address inhalant abuse in Australia and makes recommendations for a national response to inhalant abuse. See Section 2.8 - Media (pp 18-19) which contains guidelines and national recommendations.
Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee - Inquiry into the inhalation of volatile substances: Final report
Parliament of Victoria, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee. See Chapter 25 - Volatile substance abuse and the role of the media (pp488-502).
Australian Press Council. Guidelines for the responsible, accurate and ethical reporting of drug issues.
See other Media-related resources from the Resource Library of this website.