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J Drug Educ. 2012;42(1):87-98.

Starting to drink: the experiences of Australian lower secondary students with alcohol.

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Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Edith Cowan University, WA, USA.


This study describes Australian year eight students' (13-14 years old) experiences with alcohol in terms of communication with parents, initiation into drinking, patterns of consumption, context of use, and harms experienced. The sample comprised 521 year eight students from four state government secondary schools in the state of Victoria. Three of the schools are in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria; the fourth is in a rural center. Female and rural students were more likely to talk to parents about alcohol, but this was not associated with safer drinking. Initiation into drinking was higher among rural students. Rural students also drank more, were more likely to drink without adult supervision, to drink to get drunk, and drink more than planned. Student drinkers experienced just over four alcohol-related harms on average in 12 months, with some indication of greater harm among rural students. Higher levels of drinking by rural students, accompanied by more risky patterns of consumption and the possibility of greater harm, supports prioritizing interventions in rural schools.

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