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Inappropriate Alcohol Supply By Parents Decreases

25 February 2002

Inappropriate Supply Of Alcohol By Parents To Their Teenagers Decreases After Community Campaign

Fewer parents supplied alcohol to their teenage children for unsupervised drinking after a campaign in Oamaru & Ashburton. The campaign, funded by ALAC ran between July and November last year.

The campaign, called Think before you buy under-18s drink discouraged adults from giving teenagers alcohol except to drink with adult supervision. Graphic newspaper advertisements, hourly radio announcements, notices in bottle shops, and other awareness raising methods were used in Ashburton and Oamaru during September and October.

According to Sandra Kirby, Manager Southern Region for the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC), “the campaign was developed because of growing concern about levels of binge drinking by young people.”

The campaign was evaluated by Kypri & Dean, a Dunedin-based research firm. Baseline surveys were completed in July by 872 secondary school students aged 15-17 and 748 parents of teenagers in Ashburton, Waitaki, and Clutha, a comparison district.

According to teenagers, 36% of parents in Ashburton and the Oamaru areas had provided alcohol for unsupervised drinking. The results of a follow-up survey conducted in November show that this decreased to 30%. In the same period there was no reduction in Clutha, where the campaign was not run.

“This result is impressive, considering the campaign lasted just six weeks. The communities deserve credit for embracing it so wholeheartedly” says Sandra Kirby of ALAC. She added “It is still of great concern to us that 30% of parents are providing their teenagers with alcohol inappropriately, and we have to look at ways of addressing this”.

The report revealed a discrepancy between parent and teenage reports of the supply of alcohol. In response to the same question answered by teenagers, only 1.9% of parents said they had given their teen alcohol for unsupervised drinking in the month before the baseline survey.

“We’ve seen this sort of discrepancy before,” says Ms Kirby. “It is possibly attributable to differences in what parents and teenagers understand ‘supervision’ to mean, and it may also be that parents were reluctant to admit they had inappropriately supplied their teenager with alcohol. It is really important that parents know whether there is appropriate adult supervision at events where alcohol is consumed”.

The Kypri & Dean report also revealed that in the month before the baseline survey, 16% of teenagers purchased alcohol from a bottle shop and 11% bought it in a pub or bar. “This is also a concern,” says Ms Kirby. “It’s essential that licensees and retailers act according to the law to ensure that minors do not get access to alcohol in this way.”

“Think before you buy under-18s drink looks very successful considering it was a brief, low-budget campaign,” says Kyp Kypri of Kypri & Dean. According to Kypri, “further research is needed to better understand where teenagers are obtaining large amounts of alcohol for binge drinking, but this work shows that such a campaign could be effective elsewhere in New Zealand if carefully adapted to communities as part of an overall strategy to reduce teenage drinking”.


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