Principals reported that student use of alcohol outside of school time was the third most important student issue they had to deal with – only depression and cyber bullying were more significant. This demonstrates that alcohol remains a big problem for school students even when their overall rates of drinking are in decline.
Alcohol problems are evident when students attend school late and tired, due to drinking on weekends or on week nights. These students generally have a poor attitude to schooling, have a higher rate of absenteeism, and are more likely to be disruptive in class. Principals nominated alcopops (e.g. Cruisers) as the alcohol beverage that was most popular with students, ahead of straight spirits, beer and wine.
Significantly, principals stated that ‘schools cannot carry the load on this’. They believe the wider community has to take responsibility for behaviour that happens outside school. The principals considered school could provide information and a caring environment for students but this was not sufficient because students’ needs are complex and long term and a holistic community response is necessary.