Dutch councils urged to tackle youth alcohol abuse
The government wants local councils to be more involved in tackling the problem of alcohol abuse among drinking youths.THE HAGUE – The government is calling on local councils to do more to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse among youths following a report which reveals an increase in number of young people admitted to hospital.
Only a quarter of councils currently have an alcohol policy in place and the cabinet wants more active involvement at local level.
Youth and Family Minister Andre Rouvoet said the figures on youth drinking are a cause for concern.
But the increase in the number of youths admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning could be attributed to improved registration procedures and the fact that more clinics for alcohol abuse are opening up, Rouvoet said.
The government is also urging a clampdown on illegal drinking dens. In 2007, ministers pledged to take action against the illegal bars. There are 1,500 illegal bars in the Netherlands which was mainly popular among youths in rural areas.
In an interview with nu.nl, Labour MP Lea Bouwmeester said councils are afraid of receiving complaints from youngsters if they close down the illegal bars. They would also have to set aside budget to come up with alternative entertainment.
Figures released Thursday showed that the number of children admitted to hospital with severe alcohol poisoning increased 13 percent in 2008.
The figures received by 60 hospitals nationwide showed nearly 340 youngsters ended up in hospital because of alcohol abuse, 40 more than in 2007.
The average age of the drinkers was 15, slightly younger than in 2007. The youngest drinker admitted to hospital was 11.
The children had an average blood alcohol level of 1.9, which would indicate that about 12.5 units of alcohol had been consumed. The highest registered level was 5.5, reached after drinking about 37.5 units, an amount which could have been fatal.
The average age of the drinkers was 15, making them slightly younger than those monitored in 2007. Research shows the youngsters affected came from all sections of society.
Radio Netherlands / Expatica