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Govt sells teens short on drink, drugs and sex

Thursday, 3 June, 2004

Turner: Govt sells teens short on drink, drugs and sex

The Government is failing New Zealand teens by not actively promoting the 'say no' option on drink, drugs and sex, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

"We have 'harm minimisation' strategies in place, that are good as far as they go, but unfortunately that isn't far enough, and for very politically correct reasons.

"When did saying no to drink or drugs or sex stop being the most effective form of harm minimisation?" Mrs Turner, United Future's family spokeswoman, asked.

"Yet when do we see this position advocated in programmes, literature and support directed at teens in these areas?" she asked, citing the proposed new Government drug education booklet, Strengthening Effective Drug Education in Schools.

"And sex education is the same story," she said.

"There are plenty of teenagers who want to make their own decisions; who don't want to just go with the flow, or submit to peer pressure on issues such sex or drugs or drink. And they make those choices every day - but without any official support.

"Is it asking too much that responsible adults, including in this instance, the Government and its agencies, can actually say something to validate those choices?" Mrs Turner asked.

The continued failure to present the 'say no' option was effectively a vote of no confidence in young people, she said.

"What we're saying is, 'we know you're going to do these things, so do as little harm as possible along the way'.

"Now that is fine as part of a strategy, but it does a huge disservice to many young people who figure that they are worth more than that.

"Do we just want to keep telling them that they are incapable of making good, legitimate choices to abstain in certain areas of life?

"Responsible government means presenting responsible choices, and at times making tough, unfashionable calls," Mrs Turner said.


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