Members of children’s parliament want alcohol to be made ‘less visible’

Campaigners want less visibility of alcohol.  Picture: John Devlin
Campaigners want less visibility of alcohol. Picture: John Devlin
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Members of Scotland’s Children’s Parliament have called for alcohol to be made less visible and for tougher measures to stop people drinking in public spaces.

A new report published today – compiled with the help of nine members of the Children’s Parliament – used workshops with 90 primary school pupils between the ages of nine and 11.

During the sessions, children shared their experiences of alcohol, along with wondering what their life might be like if they did not encounter alcohol regularly.

Young people described alcohol as being “highly visible” throughout their day.

The report concluded alcohol should be made less visible in shops and on TV, as well as calling for the removal of adverts from billboards.

The Children’s Parliament also called for an end to alcohol firms sponsoring events at which children will be present.

The children told researchers that alcohol was portrayed in adverts as being “desirable and cool”.

One member of the Children’s Parliament said: “No-one asks us about alcohol and suddenly when you think about it, you realise it’s all around you all the time.”

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, which aided in the research, said: “As adults we tend to assume that as an age-restricted product, children don’t really notice alcohol advertising or people drinking.

“What this work has shown us for the first time is how often children are seeing alcohol – from opening the fridge at breakfast time, throughout the day in shops and on billboards to in their homes and on TV at night – and the negative effects it can have on their wellbeing.”

Ms Douglas said Scotland had a chance to make a difference in how alcohol was presented.

She added: “The Scottish Government’s forthcoming consultation on alcohol marketing provides a real opportunity to show we are listening to children and will take action to protect and promote their right to grow up healthy and happy, free from alcohol harm.”

Cathy McCulloch, co-director of the Children’s Parliament said: “Children have the right to have their voices heard in matters that affect them and we, as adults, have a responsibility to listen and respond.

“Throughout this process, children have been clear about the impact that alcohol has on their lives and what needs to happen to ensure that children’s rights to be happy, healthy and safe are realised. This report sends a clear message to all of Scotland’s adults.”

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick also supported the work, saying the voice of children should be heard on this issue.

He said: “It is crucial that we seek and listen to the views of children and young people in determining how best to prevent and reduce the impact of alcohol on them.”