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Healthier party culture initiative: Danish Health Authority, gymnasiums, and vocational schools collaborate for change



Niels Sandø Pedersen, Head of Unit, Sundhedsstyrelsen
Niels Sandø

April 22, 2024 - The Danish Health Authority, together with Danish Gymnasiums and Danish Vocational Schools and Gymnasiums - Leaders, are issuing an appeal to the country's gymnasiums and vocational schools to create a healthier and more inclusive party culture.


It is possible to change the party culture so that alcohol plays a lesser role when teenagers start secondary education and during general festivities and events at the school. This is the message in a joint letter from the Danish Health Authority, Danish Gymnasiums, and DEG-Leaders (Danish Vocational Schools and Gymnasiums) to the country’s secondary educational institutions.


"New figures from the Tryg Foundation show that six out of ten young people find it difficult to be part of the social community at a secondary education institution if they do not drink. Fortunately, many secondary education institutions have taken more responsibility in recent years to ensure a healthier and more inclusive alcohol culture, but we need more to join. For the sake of the youth," says unit chief Niels Sandø, who continues:


"Danish youth drink a lot of alcohol and they start drinking early. We know that alcohol is harmful to children and young people, and that it can affect their learning. Many young people experience that parties and social gatherings, where alcohol plays a major role, exclude them from the community. Therefore, it is important that we change the current party culture, which focuses on getting drunk, and instead have a culture that focuses on the social aspect and can include all students. And here, secondary educational institutions, together with the parents, play a key role in setting the boundaries," says unit chief Niels Sandø.


It's important that parents support the schools' initiatives

The appeal from the Danish Health Authority, Danish Gymnasiums, and DEG-Leaders is that there should be no alcohol during the initial period after the summer break. This means that secondary education institutions are working to ensure that parties and other events, which are organized by the schools or tutors, are completely alcohol-free until the end of September, and that this applies to all grades at the schools. Similarly, the appeal is that introductory trips should also be alcohol-free. This provides an opportunity for students to form friendships and establish themselves socially without alcohol being the focal point of communities and parties.


"We hope that parents will actively support the effort. We know that their attitude has a significant impact on their child’s alcohol habits. Therefore, the letter also contains an appeal for schools and the new students' parents to discuss how they can enhance the school's efforts to establish good communities where all students can feel safe and welcome, and where social events do not revolve around alcohol," says Niels Sandø.


At the same time, the letter suggests that study trips and other events that occur outside of school but are organized by the schools should also be completely alcohol-free for the students, and that schools should also discuss how staff can act as role models so that parties and celebrations can take place without alcohol.


"We know that a cultural change, such as the one we are advocating for, can be met with resistance and concerns about whether alcohol-free events will lead to a lack of participation from the students. However, there are increasingly many secondary education institutions that have good experiences with working on their alcohol and party culture in various ways. Therefore, there are many good examples and experiences to delve into together with the students, so that you can focus on the companionship and not alcohol," says Niels Sandø.


 

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Yukia Nanilas
Yukia Nanilas
May 06
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

It's becoming more common for secondary schools to have positive experiences with addressing their drinking run 3

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