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Campaign aims to steer kids off booze

Thousands of children are being admitted to the region’s hospitals with alcohol-related illnesses.

Statistics show more than 3,000 under-18s end up in hospital in North East England each year due to excessive drinking, 149 of those in South Tyneside hospitals.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families launched an advertising campaign to get parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drinking.

The campaign, Why Let Drink Decide? was launched yesterday by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls and comedian Bill Bailey.

It highlights the fact youngsters are far more likely to have unprotected sex and pregnancies, be involved in road accidents and achieve poor exam results if they regularly consume alcohol.

NHS South of Tyne and Wear pumped £5.6m into its Drink Less, Live More campaign in October last year, which set out to highlight the tragic effect binge-drinking has on the borough.

Mark Watson, Head of Service (Substance Misuse Commissioning) at NHS South of Tyne and Wear, thinks campaigns such as this one are helping.

He said: “National statistics released last year indicated that the proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who have never drunk alcohol is increasing.

“Hopefully, campaigns such as the one announced today will continue this trend.

“Many key factors influence young people’s approach to alcohol, including parents and friends.

“Parents play a major role and it is important they engage with their children and talk to them about alcohol.

“Talking to young people before they begin to experiment with alcohol can help them make more responsible decisions.”

Figures show on average 149 under-18s are admitted to hospital in South Tyneside each year compared with 452 in Sunderland.

These include youngsters injuring themselves while drunk or needing to be monitored because they are violently ill.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East England alcohol office, said: “Research shows young people are 12 times less likely to drink alcohol if their parents set clear boundaries for them to follow.”

source: Shields Gazette

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