Teenage girls worse drinkers than boys

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:01 16/11/2012

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Palmerston North's teenage girls are following a national trend to hit the bottle and hit it hard, as police increasingly arrest more intoxicated girls behaving in a violent or disorderly manner.

A national survey by Massey University's Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) public health unit revealed this week that teenage girls were binge-drinking more than ever.

The survey showed the percentage of females aged 16 and 17 binge-drinking on a night out increased from 9 per cent to 28 per cent between 1995 and 2011.

"Binge-drinking" is defined by the study as having more than eight standard drinks in one session.

Males of the same age saw a smaller increase, from 19 per cent to 25 per cent, but the rate among 18- and 19-year-old males stayed static, dropping one point to 29 per cent.

However, older teen females continued the trend set by their younger counterparts, with the proportion of binge-drinkers increasing from 4 per cent to 16 per cent.

Palmerston North police prevention manager Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said the survey backed up what they were seeing on a day-to-day basis - that there seemed to be many young women binge-drinking.

Police were arresting more drunken young women - including those in their early teens - for disorder type offences, including fighting, he said.

Mr Calkin said it raised questions about the marketing and availability of alcohol to under-age drinkers, parenting and boundaries of behaviour.

"If we you have 16- to 17-year-olds binge-drinking, and we often come across them in the CBD on Friday and Saturday nights, you have to ask what level of parenting they are getting."

The rise of sugary, ready-to-drink alcoholic drinks that appeared to be targeted at the younger market were also a significant contributing factor, he said.

In a MidCentral Public Health survey last year, the most dramatic change was the increase in intoxicated girls coming into the emergency department compared with the first survey in 2009, health promotion adviser Sharon Vera said.

The percentage of women assessed as intoxicated in last year's study almost doubled on 2009, rising from 23 per cent to 44 per cent.

The proportion of intoxicated males dropped over the same period, from 76 per cent to 56 per cent.

In 2009 and 2010 the survey was carried out over three weeks and last year it was over four weeks, including the finals week of the Rugby World Cup.

But each survey had about 470 people ranging in age from 15 into the eighties.

Each year, more than half of those found to be intoxicated were under 25.

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MidCentral alcohol health promotion adviser Martin MacMaster said the data was just the "tip of the iceberg" because it only encompassed those injured seriously enough to go to the hospital.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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