There is no doubt that early intervention and prevention is the best approach to positively influencing how our young people develop. This is why members of the City of Mandurah Community Safety Team visited Falcon Primary School to talk to a class of Year 6 students.
The visit was part of a pilot for a program called Smart Generation. This program is supported by the Mandurah Local Drug Action Team. The aim of this program is to educate communities, young people and parents about the harms associated with adolescent alcohol consumption.
This is just one element of the City’s long term strategy to build a happier, healthier and safer community.
“We know only too well the long term impacts caused by adolescent alcohol use,” said City of Mandurah Mayor, Rhys Williams.
“These are complex issues and while they will take time, and we will work in a collaborative way with our partners, we don’t shirk from our responsibility to do the best we can to make our community a better place in the future,” he said.
The Smart General Strategy, which was developed by Deakin University, has two components:
• Supply monitoring – checking to make sure our liquor outlets are not supplying minors with alcohol.
• Talking to parents and pre-teens though the school setting about the importance of delaying alcohol use for as long as possible, and for parents to set rules to prevent adolescent alcohol use.
The visit to Falcon Primary was all about communicating to students and parents. The students learn that even small amounts of alcohol can cause permanent damage to their developing brain. At the end of the day the students take back a letter from the Principal and a homework task. The homework encourage parents to talk openly with their kids. And the evidence show that when parents and children talk about the issue – alcohol use is delayed.
The Mandurah City team is also running a pilot program at North Mandurah Primary School – and if successful, the City hopes to expand the program to more schools.
“I love the idea the City is going beyond the rates, roads and rubbish stereotype – we take ownership of our problems and we put in best practice, evidence based programs that will make real difference in the future – even if the real results of these initiatives might not become clear for decades,” the Mayor said.
• Adolescents who start using alcohol in early high school are less likely to complete secondary education.
• Drinking alcohol heavily in adolescence is associated with increased depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
• Drinking alcohol is linked to deterioration of the parts of the brain controlling decision making, problem solving and emotions.