Sloshed parents trigger school grog ban bid
A booze ban at school functions is being urged by alcohol experts, who warn that sloshed parents at fetes and trivia nights are setting a bad example for students.
The federally-funded National Drug Research Institute has told a Senate inquiry into foetal alcohol spectrum disorder that school kids are being exposed to drunken mums and dads at graduations, formals, fundraising and sporting events, musicals and barbecues. "Kids don't miss much,'' the institute's prevention program leader Associate Professor Nyanda McBride said.
"They can tell when adults have had too much to drink and they're learning lessons that it's an OK thing to do.
"There's a message … when they see a parent dancing with a glass of wine in their hand.''
Monash University senior lecturer Dr Bernadette Ward, who completed a PhD on the use of alcohol in schools, warned that drinking at school events sent the wrong message to students.
"It normalises the use of alcohol at social events and contradicts the curriculum, where we teach students they don't need alcohol to have fun,'' she said. "Children see that socialising is always associated with alcohol. We know that some of the most problematic drinkers in Australian society are middle-aged women.''
Dr Ward worried parents could drink-drive home from school functions, with kids in the car.
Association of Independent Schools of SA chief executive Carolyn Grantskalns said schools took different approaches to allowing alcohol at events. But she said it would be "extremely rare" for parents to drink to excess at a function.
Catholic Education SA director Neil McGoran said schools abided by all alcohol laws in relation to work, health and safety, as well as duty of care obligations.
"We would expect anyone attending a school event, including parents, to act responsibly and appropriately," he said.
SA Education Department policy is firmly against alcohol at school functions, although it stops short of an outright ban.
"The department's position is that the provision of alcohol by a school or preschool at an official student event is not acceptable," a spokesman said. "It's not recommended for alcohol to be consumed by any adults while children and young people are present. The provision of alcohol at events where only adults attend, and a modest amount of donated alcohol as part of a raffle prize or fundraising activity, may be acceptable."
Prof McBride said children were more likely to become heavy drinkers if their parents were. "We're one of the highest-drinking nations in the world and (that) can lead to harmful outcomes," she said.
Originally published as Sloshed parents trigger school grog ban bid