Private school teens binge drink more
Concerning picture of youth drinking culture
Teenagers from Christchurch's single-sex, fee-paying schools are particularly prone to binge drinking, surveys suggest.
Investigations of hazardous drinking in Canterbury, South Canterbury and the West Coast have been presented to the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB).
They paint what some members considered a concerning picture of youth drinking culture.
They showed that one in three Canterbury teenagers is consuming at least five alcoholic drinks at a time.
The surveys, which will be updated this year, identified students from single-sex and private Christchurch schools as particularly prone to hazardous drinking.
In 2003, 43 per cent of males and 33 per cent of females at five "predominantly single-sex, fee-paying secondary schools" in Christchurch consumed five or more drinks in one session.
In Timaru, a 2005 study of nine secondary schools showed 32 per cent of males and 36 per cent of females drank five or more drinks at a time.
In the Buller District in 2004, 49 per cent of children aged 10 to 18, and 32 per cent in Westland, drank at least five drinks at once.
The results tallied with national trends, which showed that 37 per cent of young people were binge drinking in 2005.
Dr Greg Hamilton, of the CDHB's community and public health division, said there had been no major law changes to trigger changes in drinking behaviour since the surveys were done.
"I don't they will have changed very much at all. We have seen various ups and downs but nothing major," he said. "In terms of access, we have had no real change in policy."
One in five shops or bars failed controlled purchase operations, where 15-year-olds were sent into licenced liquor outlets to see if they could buy alcohol.
Hazardous drinking affected teens society-wide, especially at the extremes.
Teens from low socio-economic areas accessed alcohol as part of the environment in which they lived, while those at private schools often had ready access to money to support their drinking.
CDHB members voted to put together an action plan on the issue and encourage changes to the law.
"Binge drinking is serious," member Jo Kane said. "Some of the young ones drinking cannot afford to drink in bars but they're drinking great quantities of alcohol before they go.
"I think we need to lift this and sort of put it on the radar as something we're concerned about," she told the meeting.
Member Eleanor Carter said the problem was attitudinal and that parents set bad examples for their children.
"It's not just 18 and 19-year-olds that are doing this. It's seeing their parents doing this ... associating alcohol with anything that happens in life," she said.
Community and public health division staff were working with police and the Christchurch City Council to reduce the number of drunk people being served in bars and combat alcohol-related violence, such as sexual affronts, rape, disorder and wilful damage.
- The Press
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