/ 29 November 2010

Alcohol abuse plagues schools

Alcohol Abuse Plagues Schools
Some restrictions remain in place. Alcohol is only allowed to be sold from 9am to 5pm, and only in liquor stores — not in bars or restaurants.

The first South African Youth Risk Behaviour Survey among grades eight to eleven learners nationwide, carried out by the department of health and the Medical Research Council in 2002, found that:

  • 31,8% of male and 26.4% of female learners were drinkers (they had consumed alcohol within the month preceding the survey);
  • The national average for learners involved in binge drinking was 23%; and
  • Six out of the nine provinces had binge-drinking rates above the national average (Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape).

A 1999 Human Sciences Research Council nationwide study focusing on black learners aged 10 to 21 found that 42,5% had used alcohol at some point in their lives.

Regulations governing South African schools clearly state that “no learner, teacher, parent or any other person should possess or use alcohol during any school activity”. While the legislation promotes the absence of alcohol, monitoring at school level is clearly inadequate.

In an attempt to reduce violence in South Africa and move towards alcohol-free schools, the Soul City Phuza Wize Drink Safe Live Safe campaign has come up with a new way to make schools alcohol-free. The Soul Buddyz 5 television drama, which is aimed at eight to 14-year-olds, shows the impact of alcohol on children and follows the story of a group of children who try to rid their school and community of alcohol.

This campaign is being led by more than 5 300 Soul Buddyz clubs around the country, which are trying to get their schools to draw up an alcohol-free policy and maintain this status on an ongoing basis. The Soul Buddyz 2010 Unit 3, Alcohol-free Schools explains how to draw up a policy for an alcohol-free school:

  • Invite all stakeholders to participate. This includes parents, teachers, learners, kitchen staff, community members, the school governing body, and so on. Help everyone to understand what a policy is and why you want an alcohol-free school policy;
  • Find out what different people say they would like to have in the policy;
  • Write up a draft policy in simple language and in a way that everyone can understand;
  • Show everyone the draft policy so they can comment on it;
  • Write the final policy. The school governing body must approve the policy at one of their meetings;
  • Make everyone aware of what the policy says; and
  • Follow up to see if the policy is working.

Ideas to include in the Alcohol-Free Schools policy are:

  • We will not bring or drink any alcohol on our school property even when we have a party, a fundraiser or any event at school;

  • Our school will not allow educators or staff or other adults who drink or smell of alcohol onto our school property;
  • Our school will not give alcohol as prizes for competitions, at events for adults, and we don’t give alcohol as gifts to anyone;
  • We will not advertise alcohol at school or allow alcohol sponsorship of our sports events; and
  • Our school will send out information about organisations that help people and their families who are affected by alcohol misuse and abuse.
  • For more information on the Phuza Wize Drink Safe Live Safe campaign, go to www.phuzawize.org.za or www.soulcity.org.za.
    Savera Kalideen is advocacy manager at Soul City