17 November 2006
Time for Focus on Alcohol
Commenting on the figures showing a 20% increase in the number of young people under 18 needing ending up in hospital as a result of alcohol, Eric Carlin, Acting Chair of the Drug Education Forum said:
These are shocking figures and show a serious problem that a small proportion of our children have with alcohol.ÿ Many young people don?t drink, or only drink moderately with their parents, but for those who are drinking illicitly there are growing numbers who are drinking dangerously.
The Drug Education Forum believes it is time to pay much more attention to alcohol as part of drug education in schools and youth service providers.
We also know that parents have a crucial part to play in helping their children to understand the problems that alcohol can cause.
Young people and alcohol; the figures:
- The amount of alcohol being drunk by young people under the age of 15 has increased from 5.3 units in 1990 to 10.5 units in 2005.
- In 2005 42% of children between 11 and 15 years old had never had an alcoholic drink.
- In 2004 most (60%) alcohol drunk by young people between 11 and 15 was consumed in the home.
Guidance to Schools:
The Drug Education Forum endorses the government?s guidanceÿ to schools on alcohol education.ÿ The guidance says:
Given its prevalence and the increased vulnerability of young people to the impact of alcohol misuse and changes in drinking behaviours, educating pupils about the effects of alcohol and how to reduce alcohol related harm is an important priority for all schools. The Department therefore expects all schools to reflect this within their drug education programmes. Alcohol education should start at primary school before drinking patterns become established and should be revisited as pupils? understanding and experience increases.
We also support the finding from Ofsted:
The overwhelming majority of young people regard tobacco and alcohol as the drugs that pose the most significant danger to them. This should be taken into consideration when determining the balance of time to be given to education about specific drugs and to solvent abuse.
Youth services should take note of new guidance from DrugScope and Alcohol Concern, which sets out what works in drug education:
Effective drug education contributes to reducing the consumption of drugs including tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs and delaying the onset of their use. The best available worldwide research has identified some of the key components of effective drug education programmes as those which:
- have clear aims and objectives
- address knowledge, skills and attitudes
- meet the needs of the young people, including developmental and cultural needs
- challenge misconceptions which young people may hold about their peers behaviour and their friends? reactions to drugs use [Young people frequently overestimate the prevalence of drug use amongst their peers and the approval of their friends for drug use]. This is known as normative drug educationÿ
- use interactive methods such as discussion, small group activities, peer education and role play
- form part of a wider community approach. Parents and carers should have access to information and support in talking to young people about drugs and other issues.
These components are part of a programme and cannot be delivered in a single session or event.