3 Jul 2008

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today called on parents, communities, and retailers to help curb underage drinking over the summer months. 

Welcoming a PSNI initiative targeting alcohol abuse amongst young people, the Commissioner said the issues which caused the drinking problem needed addressed.

“The lack of constructive things to do, the easy, cheap availability of alcohol, and too often parents not preventing the alcohol abuse are factors that can leave the health of children and young people damaged,” she said.

“Any initiative which can target and reduce this is to be welcomed, and the PSNI initiatives over the summer are one part of solving the problem.

“I believe that parents, grandparents, community leaders and retailers can all play a part in addressing underage drinking.

“Equally important is speaking to young people, helping them to build the capacity to explain why they are drinking, and vitally helping them to design schemes, plans and projects that will reduce or eliminate underage drinking.”

Ms Lewsley said she has seen first hand the devastating effect of alcohol abuse by young people.

“Communities suffer through the inevitable anti social behaviour which follows street drinking, and I find it extremely worrying that already we have teenagers who are addicted to alcohol.

“I have met young people who not only are addicted to alcohol before they leave their teens, but are suffering terrible health consequences.”

The Commissioner welcomed a PSNI commitment she received that while their campaign included enforcement, it was not about bringing young people into the criminal justice system.