The problem of alcohol consumption among children has once again come under the spotlight and now a study is revealing that children as young as 12 years old who live in areas saturated with liquor outlets are more likely to drink than their peers in less saturated areas.
A study which incorporated more than 10,000 high school students as subjects found that many of them were being sold alcohol at takeaways and liquor stores.
The study conducted by Deakin University research fellow and study leader Bosco Rowland revealed that children between 12 and 14 who live near many take-away alcohol outlets are more at risk of drinking than their counterparts who live near less liquor outlets.
There are also fears that the increase in alcohol outlets expected in NSW is going to far exceed population growth exacerbating the problem further.
According to the researchers drinking has become “normalised” among children who live in areas highly saturated with liquor outlets and were also experiencing more exposure to alcohol and alcohol advertising.
The following excerpt from an article on www.Smh.com.au explains more about the research findings:
“Of course if kids are going to consume alcohol they need access to alcohol,” he said. “But if you have got more outlets you have also got more advertising and more exposure”.
He said the majority of teenagers who were drinking in his study were given the alcohol by an adult, with children who had parents born overseas less likely to drink.
“There has been this culture in Australia that you initiate kids to alcohol at an early age, and if you go back 10 or 15 years that’s what would be promoted,” he said.
The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviours. It revealed that 62 per cent of Victorian teenagers admitted to having friends who used drugs.
Even more cause for concern came in the form of research which indicated that the number of take-away liquor outlets in NSW had increased by 26 per cent over the past 10 years. Because of the “winding back” of restrictions and the promotions of the alcohol industry this increase has been facilitated and limiting expansion is difficult. In fact population growth does not equate to the increase in take-away liquor outlets, bars and pubs.
According to one professor from the University of Newcastle Kypros Kypri, the proportion of teens identified by the study as getting away with buying alcohol was “concerning”. He went on to state:
“The fact that 19per cent [of 17-year-olds] can buy alcohol and 13per cent of 16-year-olds is really a worry,” he said. “That suggests the law isn’t being enforced properly.”
However, the study did not find the same effect of outlet density on drinking among older teenagers, which Professor Kypri said may not be supported by further analysis.
His own research among New Zealand university students had found outlet density, defined in relation to a person’s house, rather than to their local government area as was used in this study, had found such a link.
This is particularly concerning to us as RSA staff whose responsibility it is to ensure that these young people are denied alcohol. It is sad that the efforts of those reliable RSA staff are being overshadowed by some irresponsible servers who aren’t fulfilling their RSA duties.