Melbourne youth’s alcohol problems

May 8, 2015 by David Marlow
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The Melbourne Jewish community has addressed problems involving youth and alcohol.

Discussing the problems

Discussing the problems

All teenagers drink alcohol, I did when I was young too….what can I do about it… all their friends drink too.” These sentiments and a variety of other issues were addressed at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria’s (JCCV) Youth Alcohol Project (YAP) Mount Scopus Memorial College Year 7 Parent Network Project (PNP) Evening last week.

Over forty-five Year 7 Mount Scopus Memorial College parents gathered to discuss issues relating to youth and alcohol in the Jewish community and were challenged to consider what they could do about the disturbing rise of alcohol misuse.

PNP Co-facilitator Ruth Casen, a family therapist and YAP Committee Member, opened the discussion with a scenario for the parents to debate. The scenario involved an underage Jewish youth wanting to hold a party and have alcohol served to his underage friends. The youth’s parents do not agree and do not know what to do or what to say to their child. Furthermore, they are scared to say no to their child. Many of the parents in the room conceded they also did not know what they would do either.

Ronit Lewis, Education Officer for Hatzolah and PNP Co-Facilitator, described how Hatzolah responders receive calls to attend to drunken Jewish youth on a regular basis. Some of these youth start at the age of 13 years of age and many are regular drinkers. Lewis strongly supported the Jewish community’s need to set standards in relation to alcohol that we all agree on. Standards are vital to reduce terrible accident or death. These standards need to include no alcohol for youth under the age of 18. Lewis stated “We can set the standards for our community, but it needs a team effort, involving youth, parents, schools, synagogues and leaders in the community, we can make a difference in the lives of our children”.

The main conversation for the PNP Evening centred on responsibility for educating the Jewish community about alcohol misuse. Some parents considered it vital that educational programs were held at the senior school level in every year level. Other parents were adamant that educational programs can only work when parents act as positive role models for their children. As a parent clearly commented “kids takes cues from their parents in everything, alcohol, smoking, drugs, driving… starts at an early age and doesn’t stop.”

The issue of illegal drugs was also discussed. Great concern was expressed by the parents that the users and dealers are rife at the Jewish schools. Drugs were considered to be very accessible, cheap and used by youth at most of the Jewish schools in Melbourne. Parents with older children, Year 11 and 12 or tertiary age nodded their heads with agreement that whilst alcohol is a drug and a big problem, illegal drugs are a minefield for Jewish families and the community.

Debbie Zauder, YAP Manager stated that this group of parents have now taken the first step to confronting difficult and confronting issues. Zauder welcomes parents to participate in a PNP Working Group to continue to examine the issue and formulate a plan for moving forward.


2 Responses to “Melbourne youth’s alcohol problems”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    I often wonder if those who handed their children their first glass of alcohol ever rue the day.

  2. Raymond Phillips says:

    Yes, I admit to drinking alcohol during my teen years, it never became a problem. With today’s teens drugs are the problem specially when mixed with alcohol. And of course the other factor peer pressure.

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