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Revealed: County's drunken children - ballot
ABOUT 1,500 11-15 year-olds across Worcestershire drink dangerous amounts of alcohol, according to new figures.
Most of them are getting it from their parents’ homes, leading to claims that people are “killing off the next generation”.
The figures are contained in a county council report saying binge drinking is “an escalating and serious concern”.
Health services in the county have recorded data suggesting 1,500 children aged 11 or over drank more than 15 units of booze weekly over the last year.
That would equate to at least eight pints of a typical beer.
Peter Pinfield, who sits on the county’s health and well-being board, said: “It’s very, very worrying. To have 1,500 young people drinking like this is simply unacceptable, and it’s part of a culture all of us have a responsibility to solve.
“We’re at risk of killing off the next generation. We must realise the impact this has on the health of young people. When it comes to the selling of alcohol we’ve got to look at the pricing of it and the advertising messages out there and spread the word that it’s not cool to drink.
“I feel very uneasy about it. Unless we do something brave, the whole of society will pay the consequences.”
The figures, which are estimates based on the number of children accessing health services with drinking problems, were revealed at a board meeting.
Comparable data is hard to come by due to the Government changing the guidelines on recommended drinking limits for adults in recent years.
Council chiefs said the figure for children was estimated to be 2,000 in 2006, suggesting a short-term fall in numbers, but they said “those who do drink, drink more”.
The report before the board meeting also labelled it “an escalating problem” going back as far as the 1960s, with “significant” rises since that time.
About a quarter of parents in the county are believed to have given alcohol to their children, and latest data released suggests 16,000 adult residents are dependent on drink.
There are also thought to be 100,000 adults in Worcestershire who are drinking “harmful” levels of alcohol.
The board, which met last week, has agreed to endorse a new alcohol plan for the county, due to be published in January. It will outline the next steps the NHS and county council can take in aiming to reduce binge drinking and alcoholism.
Part of the planning for it will involve asking pub owners around Worcestershire for their views.
Councillor Marcus Hart, the county’s cabinet member for health, said: “They need to have input into this too as I’d imagine pubs can contribute a lot.”