Health & wellbeing, Press Releases
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Boredom leads girls to binge drinking
Boredom leads girls to binge drinking
Eighty per cent of the public, in a recent YouGov and YWCA survey, agreed that girls binge drinking is a problem in England and Wales. However, according to the survey people don't just want criticism and punishment for young women - they want to see girls offered ways to change their behaviour.
Boredom, peer pressure and lack of parental guidance are perceived to be the main reasons for young girls aged between 13 and 18 to binge drink according to the survey. Sixty three per cent of those who responded felt that boredom is a key issue around drinking in young women.
To help tackle binge drinking YWCA England & Wales, therefore, calls on parents and the Government to urgently look at how young people spend their days and evenings and to provide alternatives to binge drinking. About two thirds (65%) of those interviewed suggest that young women should be given alternatives, such as youth clubs and cafes, to reduce binge drinking.
"I think most of us accept that the teenage years are a time for experimentation. Which means it is not unusual for young people to try out alcoholic drinks. There has been plenty of talk about punishing young people but more and more the public are recognising that it is education, and support that is needed, not criminalisation." says Sarah Payne, Chief Executive of YWCA.
"Although many people drink because they enjoy it, we believe that young women especially drink because of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and nothing to do. Young women who feel bad about themselves drink to boost their confidence, to make them fit in socially, to block out traumatic things from their past and to forget worries about their future. In our day to day work we constantly see how improving self esteem and offering them alternative activities can dramatically change the lives of young women for the better. We help them develop their skills, socialise, gain work and qualifications. In this way we tackle the root causes of alcohol problems."
YouGov and YWCA's poll also revealed that the public don't want to criminalise young women. When asked what should be done about young girls drinking in public places, such as on the streets or in parks , only one per cent of those surveyed agreed that the police should move young girls on without offering support that would help them. A fifth (20%) suggested that more education and activities on the issue were necessary and nearly a fifth (18%) suggested that parents should be prosecuted if their child were caught drinking.
"We must not assume that all young people have safe and supportive homes to go to. For those who do not, and unfortunately there are quite a few, parental education on alcohol will be limited. Hanging out and getting drunk may even be preferable or even safer to going home" says Sarah. "Society needs to find ways to reach out and help these young people. If we don't we will be failing them and our future generations."
YWCA believes that the following steps will help reduce this problem:
- Safe, interesting and secure places to go and things to do, especially in the evenings and at weekends;
- High quality education as part of PHSE (Personal Health and Social Education). This should help young people to understand that alcohol can be addictive and alcohol misuse can damage their health and in the case of pregnant women their unborn babies. Discussions should also look at how alcohol abuse can have an impact on friends and family;
- Education should help young women gain an understanding that heavy consumption can often lead them into unsafe situations like dangerous driving, walking home alone at night, unsafe sex, the possibility of unplanned pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted infection;
- Education should extend to settings outside the classroom and be available for young people not in mainstream education;
- Local authorities need to make commitments in their Children and Young People's Plans to provide constructive out of hours activities for young women.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2015 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10- 12 February 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
For more information read our briefings and information sheets on young women and alcohol.
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