Alcohol at the school disco? Swanswell says it’s a bar too far
20 November 2015
National alcohol and drug recovery charity, Swanswell, says that the future drinking habits of five million children are being shaped by primary schools in England and Wales.
Figures obtained by Swanswell through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) show that alcohol was served to adults at over 9,000 primary school events aimed at children last year. This represents an increase of five percent in English primary schools since 2013.
Between the ages of six and ten a child’s future relationship with alcohol is heavily influenced by their parent's drinking habits. When they see them drinking at the school disco it shows a child that this is normal behaviour.
This means they’re more likely to drink in their own social settings when they’re independent enough to do so because an early link is created between socialising and alcohol. So is it any surprise that 109 children a week are admitted to hospital because of alcohol?
Swanswell think this is a bar too far and are calling for a change in the law this Alcohol Awareness Week (16 November – 22 November).
At the moment, the Temporary Event Notice (TEN) which a primary school needs to sell alcohol is automatically granted by a local authority unless there’s an objection from the police or environmental health.
Swanswell believes that applications from primary schools should instead be automatically rejected if children are going to be present.
They also want head teachers to pledge to make their school an alcohol free zone to prevent alcohol from being brought into school for raffles and as gifts to teachers.
Swanswell’s Chief Executive Debbie Bannigan will today unveil the figures at a conference organised by Public Health Wales in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.
Speaking ahead of the conference she said; ‘Most parents want to protect their children from alcohol harm. However, we all need to stop and think again about the impact our own behaviour can have on a child’s choices in the future. By serving alcohol to adults at the school disco we’re giving children a mixed message about drinking in an environment which should be setting a better example. Isn’t this a bar too far?’
She added; ‘No-one falls to earth as an alcoholic, it’s something that develops over time. However, we’re putting a generation at risk of leaving primary school having formed a view about drinking already. Alcohol’s so visible in society today, is it really a good idea to serve it at a primary school disco as well? It doesn’t have to be this way and we’re campaigning so that one day there’ll be no more licensed bars at the school disco or beer given away as raffle prizes.’