Friday 10 January 2014
Nearly 330 Year 7 pupils in Guernsey have participated in a new initiative aimed at discouraging alcohol consumption among young teenagers.
The Year 7 pupils have taken part in the Start Thinking About Alcohol Risks Today' (STAART) programme which involved a 20 minute one to one interview with a trained worker followed up by a series of discussion cards being sent home for use with the young person and their parents or carers.
The STAART program was a joint initiative between the Guernsey and Jersey Health Promotion Units, the Bailiwick Drug and Alcohol Strategy and the Education Department's PSHE Advisor. It was based on a very successful evidence based course from America and all the costs of extra staff time, materials and postage have been covered by sponsorship from the Channel Islands Co-operative Society.
All the Year 7 students in the participating schools - aged 11 or 12 - had a one-to-one session with a trained worker to talk about their knowledge and attitudes about alcohol and their intention to drink alcohol in the future. One of the important messages passed onto the young people was the 2009 Chief Medical Officer guidance on alcohol use in young people. This recommended that an alcohol-free childhood was the healthiest and best option. However, if children do drink alcohol, it should not be until at least the age of 15 years. Following their interviews the young people's parents were provided with a series of eight discussion cards designed to support them in having conversations around alcohol with their children. Additional take-home material will be provided in Year 8 to help stimulate further discussion.
Andrea Nightingale, Drug and Alcohol Strategy Coordinator said:
"The recent Young Peoples Survey showed that 13% of Year 8 pupils had had an alcoholic drink (more than just a sip) in the 7 days before the survey. We therefore feel that Year 7 is an ideal time to work with students to encourage them to choose to be alcohol free until they are at least 15. Having the opportunity of discussing this with their parents is vital to hopefully gain their support in what can sometimes be a difficult time with peer pressure. We are very grateful for the sponsorship from the Channel Islands Co-operative Society and we will be looking for another sponsor next year so we can continue to offer the STAART programme to the other Bailiwick Schools."
Colin Macleod, The Channel Islands' Co-operative Society Chief Executive said:
"As a community retailer, we have a duty to promote responsible drinking. We are pleased to have been able to support the STAART programme, which has been hugely effective in better informing young people in the island about responsible drinking behaviours and alcohol misuse."
Notes to Editors:
1. For further information, please contact Yvonne Le Page, Health Promotion Manager tel 707311