The risks of underage drinking are many, that's why several countries have launched campaigns that seek to raise awareness about this situation
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year die approximately 3.3 million people due to alcohol consumption, a figure within which sadly there are many young people. In response to this problem, equivalent to 5.9% of the deaths in the world, in 2010 the World Health Assembly approved the global strategy to reduce harmful use of alcohol. This seeks to "reduce the harmful use of alcohol (...) to improve health and social welfare and alleviate the current burden of disease" in the Member States, as explained in the report published by the WHO.
Since then, more and more countries are raising awareness about the consumption of this substance, especially in minors as this is one of the most affected populations.
What is done in Latin America to reduce the consumption of alcohol in children?
In Latin America, companies and government entities have launched campaigns to raise awareness about alcohol consumption among young people, which demonstrates the commitment of this region to the WHO global strategy. An example of this is the well-known Colombian beer company Bavaria, which for the occasion of Father's Day launched a statement that seeks to call attention to the parents of this region on underage drinking. This is due to the fact that a study carried out by the Nuevos Rumbos Corporation and supported by the company on the consumption of alcohol in children under 18 years revealed alarming data about this problem in the South American country.
This study explains that young people started drinking around age 12, only 14% of them started before 10. Of these adolescents surveyed, 47% consume alcoholic beverages in the presence of their parents and the first time they did it was in a family context. In addition, 70% have asked an adult to buy alcoholic beverages for them and 31% have been intoxicated at some time in their life. More than half have consumed alcohol in parties at their house, 93% have been at parties where people serve alcohol to minors, and 66% say it is easy to get alcohol.
This study shows a worrisome situation in this country, which evidences the lack of policies that effectively regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors and consumption, as well as control by the parents. For this reason, "Club Colombia invites all parents to be part of the change in these statistics, calling on them to be more informed and to be more sensitive about the consequences and risks of alcohol consumption at an early age, in favor of a better future for them," the company states in its statement.
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Now, as in Colombia, in other countries such as Argentina, Peru and Mexico are being carried out campaigns that seek to raise awareness about underage drinking. In Argentina, the Ministry of Education launched in 2013 the campaign "Let's talk about the subject" (Hablemos del tema, in Spanish), which gives address the problems that exist for the use of these beverages in young people between 13 and 17 years old. Also, in 2018, the Argentine Advertising Council, in collaboration with different organizations, created the "Kids without alcohol" campaign (Chicos sin alcohol, in Spanish), which seeks to raise awareness of health risks arising from early consumption of this substance.
In Mexico, the Cerveceros de México group launched the #NoTeHagasGüey campaign in 2014. This campaign aims to prevent and raise awareness of alcohol consumption in children in collaboration with parents. According to a report issued by the agency on its website, "Cerveceros de México is firmly committed to eradicating alcohol consumption by minors and for this reason wants to join efforts with parents, minors, authorities, and institutions."
For its part, "Listen is part of the solution" (Escuchar es parte de la solución, in Spanish) is a campaign launched in Chile in 2017 by the National Service for the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Drug and Alcohol Consumption (SENDA, by its acronym in Spanish), which seeks to "prevent the use of these substances, especially in children and adolescents," according to the website of the government entity. This is also a campaign that is mainly aimed at families, which wants to raise awareness among parents about the consumption of alcohol and drugs in minors.
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What can you do to prevent your children from drinking alcohol at a young age?
According to the same statement from Bavaria, a mistake that parents make is to think that alcohol is not harmful to the health of those under 18 when this is not the case. Precisely, a report from the Pan American Health Organization explains that while parents "may feel relief that their adolescent children" only "drink, it is important to remember that alcohol is a powerful psychoactive drug" that affects both the mind and the body so that its early consumption can become dangerous.
This is because young people who drink alcohol are more likely to suffer traffic accidents, to be victims of violent acts, to have problems of academic performance and behavior, and to generate dependency. Also, according to a report from 2018 of the WHO, people who consume this substance are at risk of developing diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders and trauma.
For this reason, in the statement, it is recommended to explain to children from an early age the risks of the consumption of these substances and teach them to say no, generate trust environments that allow the child to want and can talk with you. Likewise, it is advisable to listen to them and speak with them in a simple but direct language.
It is also suggested to answer their questions and explain to them "with clear reasons why they should not consume alcohol", among other things. In this sense, the communication you have with your child is very important. However, the example is also, that is, "not saying one thing and have your children see you doing or promoting another".
Latin American Post | Diana Rojas Leal
Translated from "Países latinoamericanos comprometidos con la disminución del consumo de alcohol en menores"