Peer pressure leads to drunk teens: principal

Teaching students to resist peer pressure and informing them of the effects of binge drinking and drug use are the keys to preventing substance abuse, an Illawarra principal has said.

A report released by the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) yesterday found many teachers and principals lacked the resources, funding and time to fully address such problems.

Based on a survey of high school principals, the report found teachers were spending significant amounts of class time dealing with the impact of weekend parties, such as students who had drunk alcohol or used drugs being poorly behaved.

But Woonona High School principal Belinda Wall did not believe Illawarra teachers were spending large chunks of time dealing with students affected by drugs and alcohol.

While she acknowledged drug and alcohol use remained problematic in some schools across NSW, she said it was not something she had needed to spend significant amounts of time managing

Mrs Wall, who is NSW Secondary Principals' Council organiser for the Illawarra, said educating students about the effects of drugs and alcohol and strategies to deal with peer pressure, which were built into the curriculum, were crucial in stopping later problems.

"Many of the programs we have running in our school, and other schools, are teaching kids resilience in how to respond to that peer pressure," she said. "That's the way we look at it, providing the kids with information, with knowledge and the strategies to deal with that. Education and resilience are the linchpin to changing the surrounding attitudes."

ANCD executive director Gino Vumbaca said while most alcohol and drug consumption occurred outside schools, the repercussions spilt into the school environment.

"Incidents occur on the weekend with binge drinking at parties and those kids then appear in the schoolyard on Monday morning and there might have been bullying or unsafe sexual activity that can spill over into a student's performance and behaviour at school."

He said schools needed more support from governments, communities and the drug and alcohol sector to address the issues.