We can all play a role in our community to prevent young people from starting to drink. It doesn’t matter who you are; everyone can take action. You may be a parent, caregiver, teacher, coach, trainer or a community member/leader who wants to improve outcomes for young people in your community. Don’t underestimate your influence.
It is important that young people find activities that stimulate them and support their development.
Support them to stay engaged in school.
Be involved in activities that create a positive school environment – especially those which connect to the wider community.
Involving young people in organising alcohol-free events in your community can be very useful.
Let young people know that you care about them. Young people feel a sense of belonging and connected when others want to know who they are with and where they are going. It is very important that young people know that others are looking out for them.
When a young person gains a postive sense of belonging, they are less likely to take part in many risky behaviours.
Get to know the young people in your community and say ‘hi’ when you see them. If you are a parent, ask about the friends of your child and where they are going after school, etc.
Set family expectations
Communicate with your children about your concern in relation to adolescent drinking. Let them know that you care about them and want to know where they go and who they are with, particularly at night.
Set community-wide expectations
Talk to other parents and adults in the neighbourhood and/or school about drinking. Let young people know that delaying drinking is the best strategy to reduce harm. If you have children, seek to develop a network of parents of your children’s peers and friends. You can discuss your expectations about alcohol and share strategies.
Be a positive role model (in your family or community)
- enjoying yourself without alcohol
- modelling how to refuse a drink/avoid pressure to drink
- if/when drinking yourself just have one or stay within the low risk drinking guidelines
- if you are driving or responsible for looking after children, don’t drink
- if you are concerned about your drinking seek help from your GP or other health professional -this will model help-seeking behaviour
- If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking in your family/whānau be supportive, and enable them to seek help
You can help delay drinking by building strong family connections and improving parent-child communication. Consider building your skills by doing some parenting courses or reading some books about parenting. You could even organise parenting courses in your community to support others to learn useful skills and strategies. Parent/whānau Packs can be a great way of getting accurate and useful information to parents. These can include information about alcohol and other drugs, helpful strategies and also links to local agencies and services who can offer help and support. Check with your local District Health Board and/or schools to see if one has already been developed. If there is one that is up-to-date and has been developed by a trusted source then you can utilise this. Or work with your local school/s and community to develop or adapt a Parent/whānau Pack to suit your local needs. These can be distributed via schools or local groups.
Distributing information such as Parent/Whanau Packs to parents of pre-adolescents (10-13 year olds) is ideal.
Young people are exposed to alcohol on a daily basis. You can take action to reduce the number of times a young person sees alcohol and its promotion - look around your home and the community.
Alcohol in the home
Find the best ways to minimise exposure to alcohol in your home. This could involve making sure alcohol is stored out of sight or deciding as a family/whānau that your home(s) is alcohol-free.
Try to monitor social media use by your children - talk to them about any alcohol advertising they may see on the internet (or TV, etc). For more information on alcohol advertising and promotion in the home, click here.
Seek help if your family/whānau is under stress or pressure. Turning to alcohol for “support” during difficult times is a double-edged sword and can lead to more problems, not less. Consider what coping strategies you are modelling to the young ones around you.
Consider how family events could be alcohol-free and/or model responsible alcohol use. Discuss options and introduce these.
Alcohol in the community
Consider how community events could be alcohol-free and/or model responsible alcohol use. Click here for taking action on alcohol at community/public events.
Be aware of the rules around alcohol advertising in the community. This could include Billboards, signs outside bottle stores, etc. For more information on alcohol advertising and promotion in your community, click here.
OTHER PUBLIC PLACES
Reduce exposure to alcohol in other places where young people spend time - discuss this with those who are responsible and offer to assist them.
You can find strategies to address this in other parts of this website. Click on the following links to take action on alcohol exposure in each of these settings:
Encourage activities and social gatherings for young people that are alcohol-free:
Support/facilitate a discussion with young people about what form these could take, and involve them in the planning.
Visit GOOD VIBES to enable young people to develop alcohol-free events https://zeal.nz/goodvibes
Events could include indoor games challenges; outdoor activities – e.g. walks/tramps; music concert/dance; cultural activities such as kapa haka; singing; study/homework groups; community development initiatives – such as helping to re-develop local park/playground, community garden or supporting conservation efforts, helping others – such as a working bee to help an older resident with a task, helping to prepare Marae or other venue before event/clean-up after; fundraising events for school or local facilities. What about an inter-village/town challenge where young people of two or three local areas come together to “compete” in one or more fun challenges – the young people can decide what the “rules” are.
Laws play a major role in underage drinking.
Action needs to be directed to:
- Increasing the purchase age from 18 to 20 years
- Increasing the price of alcohol, so that it is no longer 'pocket money' prices
- Restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship
Also visit Mobilising Others to create a community of action.
Intervening in drinking occasions
If you feel safe, you can intervene in drinking occasions to prevent or reduce harm. Or call for assistance if you need help.
Building community action
Make sure you get the help and support you need.