New counselling measures to counter the risk of gambling addictions among children as young as 13 are in the offing in New South Wales(NSW) schools.
Under a radical plan to be introduced by the NSW Government, primary school students will be taught anti-gambling measures and counselling services will also be made available to students with gambling problems.
Students in primary and high schools will be taught about the risks and consequences of gambling.
The introduction of the anti-gambling measures comes as more counselling services report a rise in the number of kids addicted to gambling before reaching puberty.
"Young people are particularly vulnerable to gambling and problems occur with some as young as 11 to 13. We need to gamble-proof them just as much as drug-proofing," News.com.au quoted Kate Roberts from Gambling Impact Society, as saying.
As the study showed that the most likely chronic gamblers are young men aged 18 to 24, Roberts said gambling was becoming a risky ritual along with drugs and alcohol.
As part of the plan, about 12,000 problem gambling resource kits will be distributed to public, independent and Catholic schools and TAFE campuses across NSW this year.
"The kit will give counsellors the tools to identify and respond to a student developing a gambling problem or affected by a family gambling problem," Gaming Minister Graham West said.
"We need to inform young people of the risks associated with gambling and the potential consequences of a gambling problem," West added.
However, some parents are criticizing the move to introduce primary school students to anti-gambling messages, calling anti-gambling curriculum for five year-olds an overreaction.
"I think it's too young. Five is ridiculous. It's the last thing they have ever thought about or need to know about," Berowra mother Anya Bartle said.