Cape Town - Shocking statistics show that 66% of learners across the province are abusing alcohol.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said a provincial survey on substance use, risk behaviour and mental health among Grade 8 to10 learners conducted in 2011 also found that the most frequently reported substance used was alcohol, with 66% of learners reporting use out of a group of 20 227 sampled.
He said about 22,3% of learners reported binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the study and 10% reported being drunk on a weekly basis. There are now calls for a more recent survey which could show even higher percentages.
Yesterday provincial education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said it has received 50 expulsion recommendations for alcohol and drug abuse from January till June this year, of which 13 pupils were expelled. Prof. Charles Parry, director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said alcohol use has been linked to absenteeism, failing grades, dropping out of school, risky sexual behaviour (including teen pregnancy) and being injured.
Parry said alcohol use, particular ‘binge drinking’ is also harmful in terms of adolescent brain development - the brain develops until the early 20s and alcohol affects brain development.