Call for action over alcohol abuse among schoolchildren

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A Newtownabbey teacher has called on the Department of Education to investigate the growing problem of alcohol abuse by children.

Ballyclare man Stephen McCord, President of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking in the wake of the release of shocking new figures which show that nearly 300 children aged 11 or under were admitted to Accident & Emergency units across the UK last year after drinking too much.

The revealing UK-wide data showed that 6,500 under 18s were admitted in 2012/13 and that while fewer children are drinking overall, those who do may be drinking more.

“These are nationwide statistics and Northern Ireland is no different to anywhere else in the UK. This is an issue which decision-makers need to be aware of. This is yet another challenge facing teachers,” Mr McCord said.

“It is not hard for teachers to spot children who are drinking or are hung-over. While teachers give advice to young people already, they wouldn’t want this turning into another duty and another set of bureaucracies.

“Parents must take on their responsibilities too and not be giving young people the pocket money or income to do this.

“It is important for parents to act as role models and educate them in sensible drinking habits. The adult workplace has policies which restrict employees working under the influence of alcohol. Perhaps this should be extended to schools,” he added.