Current Affairs Survey shows drinking among 16-year-olds on rise
The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) has found that the number of 16-year-olds in the Czech Republic who drink beer or hard liquor on a regular basis has gone up. Back in 1995, 14 percent of the country’s sixteen-year-olds drank at least three times a month, but last year the percentage moved up to 20. By contrast, marijuana use dropped, if only slightly.
According to ESPAD, more 16-year-olds in the Czech Republic are drinking than ever: numbers released on Monday show that more than 20 percent of them now drink alcohol on a regular basis: at least three times a month, usually around five beers in a session; but 14 percent of the underage drinkers opt for spirits.
The underage drinkers in the study, out of almost 4,000 students from 360 elementary and secondary schools who took part, admit that alcohol has already complicated situations in their lives: 24 and 20 percent said it had negatively impacted ties with friends and family, while 16 percent admitted alcohol abuse had led, for example, to unprotected sex. According to child psychologists, the pressure on teens regarding alcohol consumption is greater than ever and teens have to be aware of the risks.
The government would also like to introduce tougher restrictions, clamping down on establishments that sell to minors and flaunt the law: according to daily Lidové noviny, a government inter-ministerial taskforce suggests offending establishments could suffer tough sanctions, such as being closed down for several months. Obviously, key areas: 77 percent of 16-year-olds who took part in ESPAD said that when they drank it was at drinking establishments: bars, restaurants, & discotheques. Currently, cases where establishments sell to minors usually end only in a small 3,000 crown fine for bartenders or waiters in question, Lidové noviny says.
On the flipside, the numbers in the European survey have shown some improvement in the area of illegal drugs: the use of marijuana, ecstasy, and harder drugs like pervetin have all gone down according to experts; nevertheless, Czech 16-year-olds remain among the worst on the continent when it comes to underage drinking and finished first when it comes to marijuana abuse. Another alternative is to put greater emphasis on prevention: former top volleyball coach Josef Farmačka has led children in sport for more than 20 years. In his view, putting money into programmes that allow teens alternatives to the pub is of primary importance.
“The fact that our project – The Volleyball School – is under the auspices of the National Anti-Drug Centre is no accident – clearly this kind of project is aimed at prevention. I have had thousands of kids in the programme over the years. It is not about turning them into top athletes but at providing children with opportunities in life and helping them grow up to be balanced individuals. That said, the sad part is that the programme has become less attractive for private investors and it takes a lot of effort to maintain.”
ESPAD, the European School Survey Project has been conducted since 1995 and repeated every four years. Many hope that by the next inception enough will have been done by the government for the numbers to have improved.