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A sensible way to help teenagers curb excessive drinking

Erskineville resident and former teacher Mark McPherson published a teacher’s guide to help teenagers curb excessive drinking and minimise alcohol-related death and injury writes Trevor Davies in the November South Sydney Herald’s Have you heard?.

NSW had the highest alcohol-attributable death (147) and hospitalisation (1,203) rates for 14 to 17 years-olds in the ten years to 2002 a Curtin University study showed. Mark McPherson said the current education system does not adequately provide teenagers with the life skills they need to act in alcohol-affected environments.

“Rather than laying down the law and telling these kids not to drink, we should be teaching these kids personal skills about keeping their alcohol consumption to moderate and manageable levels, which in some cases should be zero,’’ he said. The new draft low-risk drinking guidelines issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council this month say that the safest option for adolescents aged 15-17 years is to not drink at all.

“That’s a responsible thing to do but it’s hardly in line with reality,’’ Mark said. “We  should be teaching teenagers how to drink responsibly, still look cool and avoid high risk activities such as arguing, unsafe sex, and being a passenger with a drunk driver.”

Mark McPherson’s new guide Party Without Pain offers teachers a ten-step guide to empower teenagers to develop personal and realistic strategies they can apply in real life situations. The guide prefers teenagers to start with diplomacy rather than jump straight to assertiveness, to embrace real-life edgy situations and to drink moderately without “losing face” in front of their friends. If you are interested in buying a copy of Mark’s book give him a ring on 0403 914 835.

Source: South Sydney Herald November 2007