Schoolchildren in England are becoming less tolerant of alcohol use among their peers, according to an NHS survey published today, Thursday 28 July, that also reveals fewer schoolkids are using alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
The NHS Information Centre report, which gives the results of a 2010 survey on smoking, drinking and drug use by young people in England, shows a decline in all three areas, namely that:
- 32% of 11 to 15-year-old schoolkids surveyed in 2010 said it was OK for someone their age to drink alcohol once a week.
- This compares to 46% who said the same in 2003, the first year the question was asked.
- 11% of those surveyed in 2010 thought it was OK to get drunk once a week, compared to 20% in 2003.
7,300 pupils took part in the survey between September and December 2010, and for the first time, they were asked a new multiple-choice question about why they thought their peers drank. The most popular reasons they gave for their peers drinking were:
- To look cool in front of friends. (76%)
- To be more sociable with friends. (65%)
- Peer pressure from friends. (62%)
- For the buzz. (60%)
There was a clear difference in views between respondents who drank and those who did not.
Among those who had drunk alcohol in the week before the survey, the most popular reasons given for why their peers drank were For the rush or buzz, or To be more sociable; whereas among non-drinkers, the most popular reasons given for why peers drank were To look cool in front of friends or Pressure from their friends.
The figures show an estimated 6% fall from 51% to 45% between 2009 and 2010 in the proportion of schoolkids who had tried alcohol. This trend started going down in 2003, when 61% of schoolkids said they had drunk alcohol, and the figure for 2001 and 2002 was similar to this.
The drop in 2010 is steeper than that expected from the previous pattern, and we need to wait for the survey from 2011 onwards to see if this is a new trend, say the report authors.
The latest figures also reveal that:
- 27% of schoolkids said they had tried smoking at least once: this compares with 44% in 2001.
- 18% said they had taken drugs at least once, compared with 29% in 2001.
- Use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs is interlinked: schoolkids who used one of these were more likely to use another.
Tim Straughan is the Chief Executive of The NHS Information Centre. He told the media that these figures suggest intolerance to the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs appears to be growing among Englands youth.
As well as a reduction in the percentage who say they partake in these behaviours; a shrinking number think that drinking and drunkenness is acceptable among their peers, he noted.
Click here for the full report.
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