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Programme developed to reduce adolescent gambling

Programme developed to reduce adolescent gambling

Public Health Association media release

Embargoed until 3.30pm Tuesday 4 September 2012

Increasing levels of young people gambling are causing concern, with evidence suggesting gambling problems develop in adolescence and early childhood, the Public Health Association Conference was told today at Pipitea Campus, Victoria University, Wellington.

Problem Gambling Foundation (PGF) health promoter Navid Foroutan said a recent New Zealand study found that nearly 37 percent of respondents had gambled by the age of ten. [1]

“What’s worse is that nearly four percent of the respondents in that study under the age of 20 could be considered problem gamblers – twice the proportion of problem gamblers in the adult population.”

To combat the rise of gambling among youth, the PGF has developed youth oriented school-based initiatives aimed at minimising gambling harm. One example is a programme currently running in several colleges and alternative education centres in Wellington.

The programme gathers information about students’ perceptions and attitudes towards gambling, while reinforcing messages about the dangers of gambling. It uses role-playing a gambling situation to highlight issues including emotional responses while gambling, peer pressure to keep gambling and the slim chances of winning.

Tawa College school counsellor says the programme got a great response from both teachers and students.

“It raised awareness of a number of things about gambling that people often don’t think about. Many students saw gambling as just a game without any serious consequences, but the programme made them realise it’s an addiction that needs addressing in our communities.”

As they participate students are encouraged to discuss what they see as the pros and cons of gambling. After being quizzed about probabilities and the consequences of gambling, students revisit and update their list of pros and cons.

Mr Foroutan said the students’ responses suggested it helped their understanding of the problems around gambling and gave the PGF valuable insights into adolescent gambling perceptions and habits.

“Information gathered will be used to further refine the programme as we come to better understand adolescent attitudes towards gambling.”

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