Schools are settings in which young people spend a considerable amount of time. They are settings which have a profound influence on the physical and mental well-being of New Zealand adolescents.
Given drinking typically begins during the secondary school years (with peers playing a huge role in this), the school is an important setting to take action to prevent harm.
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Experiencing harm reduces the likelihood of finishing school
A high-quality study which followed New Zealand and Australian children over time found that the more alcohol-related harms a young person experienced, the less likely they were to complete high school .
It has also been found that young people who use substances (including alcohol) tend to skip school more often than their peers and leave school earlier than their peers . These outcomes will have devastating effects for the young person’s success in life as well as reduce the ability of our country to reach its full potential.
The role of the school in adolescent drinking
The school environment can protect young people from harm. These factors play an important role [16, 17]:
- Low levels of drinking in the school
- Positive peer influences in relation to alcohol (e.g. having peers which abstain or intervene in their friend’s drinking)
- Attachment to school
- Positive teacher, learning and social connectedness
- Early addressing of learning disabilities
- Positive engagement with learning
- Healthy relationships with students and teachers
- Low availability of alcohol through school sources
Click the button below for a full-list of factors that protect young people from alcohol:
As a community, you can be very influential in reducing alcohol use and harm by school students. You can advocate for improvements to the school social environment such as increasing student participation, improving relationships and promoting a positive school ethos. For more ideas on taking action, click here.
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