Drunk and confused: Weekend drinking is hitting the performance of our teenagers in school
WEEKEND binge drinking is taking a severe toll on the performance of our teenagers in the classroom, with hung-over students unable to learn and resorting to disruptive behaviour.
One in three teens aged 12-17 are consuming alcohol even though it’s not legal for them to do so.
And school principals are warning that parents have to start taking responsibility for a major social problem that could harm their children’s future and their developing brains.
A survey of 218 principals in Catholic, public and independent schools found that in many cases it was parents who purchased the alcohol for underage drinkers.
“Unsupervised parties a significant factor — fallout the next week can be major — unprotected sex, extreme drunkenness, drug use,” one principal told the survey.
Another shock finding of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) survey was that many kids were driven to drink by cyber bullying.
The survey found a significant amount of time is spent by teachers in the classroom trying to help students who drank on weekend catch up on their work or in dealing with disruptive behaviour while other students look on and wait.
Students who drank alcohol and used other drugs came to school late, tired and often with a poor attitude.
They were also in danger of developing a pattern of non-attendance.
While three out of four schools run drug and alcohol education programs, principals are resisting the idea they must play a greater role in managing what goes on outside their watch on weekends.
“Schools can no longer carry the workload on this — we don’t have the time, we don’t have the resources and I don’t think the type of programs we offer make a difference to behaviour, though they do give information,” one principal told the survey.
“Parents are increasingly looking to schools (and teachers) to undertake their role as parents … e.g. What is the school going to do about the excessive use of gaming at night-time by my son?” another said.
The ANCD, which commissioned the survey, said it wanted schools to play a bigger role in reducing the negative impact of drug and alcohol use.
“The importance of effective drug and alcohol education in our schools cannot be underestimated,” chairman Dr John Herron said.
“Schools need a far greater level of support from government and communities and the drug and alcohol sector.”
But Rob Nairn, president of the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association, said the study highlighted a social issue, “not a school issue”.
“There are very good programs in schools raising awareness about drug and alcohol issue,” he said.
It was certainly time for parents to accept some responsibility for their children’s behaviour outside school, he said.
“Parents are condoning buying alcohol for under-age children,” he said.