DUBLIN teenagers are more likely to delay the age of their first drink with in-school alcohol education, a study has found.
A survey of over 13,000 pupils who have taken part Drinkaware’s junior cycle alcohol education programme recorded notable results.
The report found that as the students progressed through the awareness programme, the proportion who expressed no interest in drinking rose from 30% in first year to 54% in third year.
Students’ knowledge of the impact of alcohol on overall health and wellbeing increased from 22% pre-programme to 50% in third year.
A similar increase was found regarding students who reported ‘knowing a lot’ about alcohol’s impact on mental health which also doubled from 23% pre-programme to 46% in third year.
Nearly half (46%) of participating students identified the negative impact of alcohol on physical and mental health as a reason why teenagers do not drink.
A disturbing result revealed that 38% of third year students who drink have already experienced one or more negative effects of alcohol consumption, such as physical fights, accidents/injury, and/or feeling physically sick/vomiting.
A recurring theme identified was that of parents’ role in underage drinking with 57% consuming alcohol at home “without difficulty” and only one in four getting into trouble with parents for drinking.
Sheena Horgan, Drinkaware CEO, said: “Fifteen years of age is the average age of the first drink in Ireland. But average doesn’t tell the full story. This study shows how attitudes, and behaviours shift markedly across 13 to 15 year olds meaning alcohol education before this age is vital.”
Lead author of the study, Professor Sinéad McGilloway, said: “Our research clearly indicates that we need to engage with our children at a much earlier age.”
To date 134 schools have undertaken the programme including Castleknock Community College, Hansfield ETSS, St Joseph’s of Rush, Fingal Community College, Portmarnock Community College, Belvedere College, Manor House, Raheny, Oatlands College Mount Merrion, Wesley College, St Andrew’s College, Gonzaga College, Mercy Secondary School, Inchicore, St Joseph’s of Cluny, De la Salle College, Churchtown, Loreto Abbey, Dalkey, Scoil Íosagáin, Stillorgan, St Kevin’s Community College, Coláiste Phádraig CBS Lucan, Mount Sackville, Chapelizod, and St Joseph’s College, Lucan.