“There is an increase in alcohol consumption by many young people when they start secondary school. For example, more than 6 in 10 young people report that their alcohol consumption increased when they started secondary education. One reason for this may be that alcohol is seen as playing a crucial role in traditions and narratives about secondary school life. It can therefore be difficult to opt out of high blood alcohol levels during the transition from primary to secondary school. At the same time, the parents often let go more during this period and do not have the same close contact with the school and the other students’ parents as they had in primary school.
High schools Full of life recommend making an alcohol-free start to studies – e.g. from the first day of school until the autumn holidays, so that students can get to know each other without pressure to drink. In addition, High Schools Full of Life recommends training intro guides and party & café committees so that they are equipped to create inclusive communities. As a secondary school, you can also involve parents by telling them about the school’s alcohol policy and rules, as well as the continuing important role of parents in relation to their child’s alcohol consumption.
Involve parents of the new 1st year students
For parents, there is a big difference between primary school, where they are involved and discuss attitudes to partying and alcohol consumption, and secondary school, where pupils are seen as independent and parents are involved to a very limited extent. However, there is still a strong case for involving and activating parents if you want to prevent excessive partying and drunk students at social events. Research shows that parents have an influence on their children’s alcohol habits.
Information material for new students
High Schools Full of Life has created materials to help clear up misconceptions among new students so they don’t drink more to fit in. Alcohol can fill the mind with ideas about what it will be like to go to secondary school. For example, 53% of young people expected their alcohol consumption to increase when they left primary school to start secondary education. You can make a difference when it comes to changing the expectations of new students about how much you need to drink to be “in” when you start secondary school.
With the campaign film, a number of 3rd-grade high schoolers have volunteered to tell future high school students how they see alcohol in high school. The film shows how alcohol must be consumed in moderation if you want to have a great high school year with good friendships and learning. The video can be sent out in the first email to prospective students, shown on information screens during the induction period and/or at assemblies during the induction period.
With ‘High Schools Full of Life’, the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden have collaborated with the National Institute of Public Health to find out what the evidence is for and what works in practice when high schools need to change their alcohol culture.
Learn more from High Schools Full of Life (Denmark, 2022)
Currently, Danish young people above 16 years of age can buy alcohol products with an alcohol content of less than 16.5% from retail stores. This comprises mostly beer and wine products. For alcohol products with alcohol content over 16.5%, the minimum age is 18 years. However, in bars and restaurants, the minimum legal age for serving alcohol is 18 years regardless of alcohol content.