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Most youths drink, most parents know

Tuesday, 19th August, 2008

Just six per cent of the 138 local Year 11 students surveyed recently said they didn't drink alcohol and 77 per cent of those that did said their parents were aware of their drinking.

The figures are among the results of a Responsible Use of Alcohol Seminar survey conducted by South Rotary last month.

Of those surveyed 48 per cent were boys and 52 percent girls.

Club President Paul Armstrong said after the survey results were collated that some were disturbing, especially in regard the volume of drinks and parental knowledge of underage drinking.

"It was in some respects alarming, but we should see the results as a warning about the whole subject," he said.

Almost a quarter said they had had more than 10 drinks in a session and the survey confirmed figues as high as 15 drinks per session.

Most of the alcohol came from friends followed by parents, bottle shops, other family members and hotels.

Mr Armstrong said 77 per cent of parents knew their children drank. 

Fifty six per cent of respondents considered alcohol a drug and 44 per cent said it wasn't.

"There were numerous responses raised around the effect of alcohol," Mr Armstrong said.

"Some were very positive - socialising, bringing people together, relaxation - but the negative aspects outweighed them."

These included harm to people and damage to property, trouble with police and with other authorities and the costs financially and socially of drinking too much.

Students said too much alcohol led to poor judgment, irrational thinking, disrespectful behavior and putting themselves in risky situations.

Just as many solutions were offered by the students; some very similar to the tips for hosting parties that are given on the NSW Police "mynite" website.

Activities were listed, including study and sleep, to counter the idea that "there was nothing better to do other than go to a party and drink".

There were discussions around an individual's capacity to drink responsibly, take protection, be a good role model and look after their mates (e.g. suggesting a slow down on drinks, offering alternative drinks to alcohol).

More supervision from adults, harsh punishment for property damage, and making the environment safer with street lighting and bins, were also mentioned.

Mr Armstrong said some of the main points of view were very educational for adults present at the seminar, and would be most interesting for the readers of this report from our youth.

"We promised the students we would give the schools the full results and we will do that.

"We are also seeking another seminar in the New Year for adults.

"South Rotary and Broken Hill Rotary will work hard in the future with the Liquor Accord, City Council, CDAT and other partners, including the two High schools, in an endeavor to help our city's youth make the right choices.

"After all, they are our future leaders.

"Let's learn from this Seminar result and then together show our teenagers we do really care about them."

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