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Calls for more alcohol-free local activities

Presbyterian Church calls on local councils and communities to provide more alcohol-free activities

The Presbyterian Church has added its voice to those speaking out against New Zealand’s binge-drinking culture, saying that more alcohol-free activities for youth are part of the solution.

Providing more “dry” all-ages community and neighbourhood events will contribute to addressing the problem drinking habits of Kiwi young people by providing safe, alcohol–free alternatives, says Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, the Right Rev Andrew Norton.

Of course, such events are only part of the solution, he says. Effective government policies that reduce the availability of alcohol and council by-laws that address alcohol consumption are also important.

“This problem is too big to be left to our politicians alone. Local government, community groups and families all need to work together to address the problem of excessive alcohol consumption among our young people,” says Andrew.

“A big part of the problem is that binge drinking has become normalised in New Zealand.Birthdays are synonymous with heavy drinking with yard glasses being a common right-of-passage, drinking games that encourage drinking for the sake of getting drunk are common-place, and national events that urge participants to drink heavily are considered acceptable by many.

“Heavy drinkingis part of the lives of too many Kiwi young people. By providing more alcohol-free events, we can start to address the mind-set that alcohol needs be present,” he says.

Andrew adds: “The Church isn’t against alcohol, rather we advocate for a responsible attitude to drinking to bring about better outcomes for young people, their families and the wider community”.

“Each weekend hospital emergency rooms are under pressure dealing with the effects of youth and adult binge drinking. The costs of excessive alcohol consumption among young people are well-documented with problems like greater likelihood of developing problem drinking habits as an adult and increased risk of cancer, just the tip of the iceberg.

“As communities and families, wehave to work harder to protect our young people against these risks. We are failing our youth if we do not provide a safe place for them to grow up.”

Around New Zealand, local Presbyterian churches are already working alongside local councils, schools and other community organisations to offer a wide variety of family-friendly options for young people and their families, but there is room for us all to do moresays Andrew.

"The church also supports the call for the drinking age to be increased to 20, which seems to be falling on deaf ears," Andrew says.

/ends


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