New Zealanders’ harmful attitudes about alcohol are exposing children to the prevalent alcohol norm and putting their health at risk.
The harmful norm of consuming alcohol during social situations is highly prevalent in New Zealand society. A recent study by the New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) found new insight into the attitudes New Zealanders have about alcohol.
The study revealed the following:
- Four out of five (81%) thought it was okay to take their children to a friend’s house or out to a restaurant or café where alcohol is being consumed.
- They also thought it was okay to consume alcohol around their children at home.
- Around half of those surveyed have taken children to a sports match, concert or bar where alcohol was served.
The harmful alcohol norm among New Zealand parents exposing children to risk, as shown by scientific evidence.
One research published on the Movendi International Science Digest found that even being exposed to low levels of parental alcohol consumption and seeing a parent intoxicated makes children feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
Another research found that children are sensitive to the alcohol norm at a very young age and they learn the norm from as young as four years. The researchers concluded that this knowledge may put them at risk for early alcohol initiation and frequent alcohol use later in life.
Big Alcohol is exposing children to heavy marketing in New Zealand as well. According to research presented in The Conversation in September 2019,
- children were exposed to an average of 46 ads for unhealthy products every day (27 junk food, 12 alcohol, and seven gambling ads), and
- children were frequently exposed to unhealthy marketing near schools and in supermarkets, and at times where they should be protected under the self-regulatory codes.
In February 2020, the WHO and UNICEF issued a report calling out alcohol industry activity
… predatory commercial exploitation that is encouraging harmful and addictive activities that are extremely deleterious to young people’s health.”A future for the world’s children? A WHO–UNICEF–Lancet Commission, The Lancet, 2020
Predatory commercial activity is deemed an “existential threat” to the right of all children to health and development.
Parents are the closest connection to children, providing shelter and care and often are role models. Children rely on parents to keep them safe and to protect their rights. And to prevent exposure to alcohol is an important aspect of a healthy childhood, despite the fact that the current alcohol norm postulates the contrary. But such a norm is not in the best interest of children.