Bid to stop booze harm to kids

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HEALTH and council chiefs in Wigan have signed a pledge to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to children and young people as part of a region-wide campaign.

New studies have shown that alcohol continues to pose a risk to under-18s, with more than half getting drink from their parents.

Wigan’s Kate Ardern is one of 16 Directors of Public Health and Directors of Children’s Services from NHS and local government organisations across the region signing up to the North West Young People and Alcohol Programme in a ceremony in Manchester.

She says: “There are many health risks associated with drinking too much whatever your age but it is particularly important that we encourage our young people not to adopt bad habits and help them to make informed choices about alcohol intake.

“Wigan Borough, like many other areas across the country, has issues with drinking and alcohol-related ill-health represents a not inconsiderable drain on resources which we believe can be avoided.

“We are working closely with our partners in the local authority and Greater Manchester police on a programme of education and enforcement to make it more difficult for young people to obtain alcohol.”

Earlier this year a Freedom of Information request put in by the Evening Post revealed that in 2010/11 106 under-18s have had to have treatment at Accident and Emergency because of alcohol intoxication.

Four children who were under the age of 12 were admitted for alcohol intoxication.

Underage drinking is acknowledged as a widespread problem in Wigan and a number of schemes have already been introduced to combat the issue. In June the idea was introduced to give alcohol bottles with ID marks in a bid to collar adults buying them for children.

The crackdown on under-age drinking was introduced by trading standards chiefs and police to increasing the traceability of shop-bought liquor. Alcohol getting into the hands of under-18s leads in many cases to anti-social behaviour and medical problems.

Alcohol Concern’s new Charter says all children and adolescents have the right to grow up in an environment protected from the promotion of alcohol and the negative consequences of alcohol consumption.

And in response to this the region’s directors will make promises directly to young people, pledging that they will:

Actively seek your views, work to better understand your needs and strive to deliver the services that we know you want to see.

Ensure you have the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to keep yourself safe and reduce the potential harm you experience from your own and other’s drinking.

Ensure that all services do their best to protect you from alcohol related harm from your earliest years through to adulthood.

Ensure that your parents are equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to protect you from alcohol related harm as you grow to adulthood.

Do all we can to make sure you grow up in an environment where you are not put under pressure to drink by advertising, the availability of cheap alcohol or illegal sales.