Underage drinking consultation

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The Department for Children, Schools & Families will be closing its consultation on alcohol and young people on 23rd April 2009.

Anyone with a view on alcohol is being urged to comment on the consultation at www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations and have a say on how to best communicate a range of information and advice on alcohol for children and young people.

The DCSF has already had an excellent response to the consultation with over a third of feedback being generated by young people themselves.

Comments to date suggest that those participating in the consultation understand the guidance and feel that the messages are clear.  There is also a strong suggestion that introducing alcohol at a younger age within the confines of the family home may be beneficial to teaching children how to maintain a safe and healthy relationship with alcohol as they grow older, however this point is still up for debate.

Whilst an alcohol-free childhood is recommended by Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, the reality is that by the age of 15 many children have already consumed alcohol and substantial numbers drink weekly. 

A recent study found that students who drank frequently were over 3 times more likely to say they were behind in school work than more moderate drinkers.  Alcohol is also linked to missing school, with 60% of pupils who had truanted in the last year having drunk alcohol in the last week compared to 17% of those who had never truanted. 

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that schools should ensure that alcohol education is an integral part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education curricula.  These messages are also set out in the Government’s Drugs: Guidance for Schools, and the recent review of Drug and Alcohol Education.  Professionals working in all children’s services also need to be able to identify children and young people with alcohol related problems and make appropriate referrals to support services. 

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer says: “Evidence shows how teachers can influence young people’s alcohol use, by having strict rules on young people’s drinking; through supervision and management; and through the closeness of their relationships with their children.  Parents and carers have asked for clear messages and we do not have all the answers, which is why this consultation has been set up.

“With the help of key stakeholders as well as parents and young people, we hope that this guidance will act as a valuable tool for reducing the impact of youth alcohol consumption on health, crime, violence and anti-social behaviour.”
For more information or to get involved before the closing date of 23rd April 2009, please visit: www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations or email alcohol.consultation@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk

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