We are all aware of the health and social effects of binge drinking, and particularly the problem of young drinkers. In Solihull 48 per cent of 14 to 15 year olds claim to drink alcohol at least once a week. Although this is below the national average, it is still concerning.
The Safer Solihull Partnership is tackling the problem by ensuring young people are educated about the effects of drinking; that licensed businesses do not sell alcohol to under 18s; and if a young person with alcohol dependency is identified, help is given to them and their family.
Educating young people about alcohol is the best way of reducing underage drinking. Solihull Council provides schools with a range of resources and lesson plans to support teachers, and other professionals in offering engaging learning opportunities about alcohol in a non-judgemental way.
Last year the team organised a highly successful alcohol project, offered to all secondary schools in Solihull, and aimed at students aged 13 to 14. Through theatre and workshops the students learned about why people may choose to drink, the effects of drinking, and how to stay safe if choosing to drink alcohol.
Stopping underage drinking also depends on them not being able to buy it. The Council and police work closely with licensees to promote ID checks and tackle businesses who sell alcohol to under 18s. They use under 18 volunteer test purchasers to attempt to buy alcohol from licensed premises. If a business fails this test a fixed penalty notice of £80 can be given to the seller, and a review of the business’ licence can be considered.
For those young people who become dependant upon alcohol, Safer Solihull offers Str8 Up, which provides comprehensive and confidential support for young people using drugs, alcohol, or solvents.
Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, Councillor Mrs Holl-Allen said: “The issue of underage drinking is very worrying. Young people that drink often do so in large amounts, which could lead to personal harm. There is also the concern that a young person’s bad relationship with alcohol will continue into their adult life.
We are taking a multiple approach to tackling underage drinking and with partners help hope to see the problem reduced.”
For information about Str8 Up, part of Solihull’s Integrated Addiction Services (SIAS), call 0121 788 5390 or email Str8up@solihull.gov.uk You can view advice and information about drinking for parents and for young people at www.direct.gov.uk/whyletdrinkdecide
Parentline plus also provides useful advice for parents: www.parentlineplus.org.uk