Czech children top the list at underage drinking, according to OECD
Prague, July 7 (ČTK) — Czechs have beaten a record when it comes to alcohol drinking by children, having outstripped Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia and Poland and becoming the leading nation in Europe in this respect, daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today, citing OECD and domestic figures.
The proportion of the children in the Czech Republic who tasted alcohol rose from 70 to 94 percent in 10 years, MfD writes, referring to the latest OECD report.
However, further data are even worse. An increasing number of Czech children really get drunk. The proportion of Czech boys under 15 who were drunk has increased from 30 to 43 percent since the beginning of the new millennium, it adds.
When it comes to girls, the surge was even bigger, from 26 to 41 percent, MfD writes.
One-quarter of the children do so quite regularly, at least once a week, it adds.
“Girls start drinking at a younger age simply because they date older boys who push them to alcohol drinking,” national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil is quoted as saying.
“Some time ago, the situation in Germany was even worse. But it was investing for ten years in a campaign that was to convince the adults that it was not normal for children to drink,” Vobořil said.
Thanks to the campaign, alcohol sellers learnt to say no, he added.
“On the other hand, 90 percent of Czech alcohol sellers sold alcohol to children in a test without asking them how old they are. They even did not know they made a mistake,” Vobořil said.
“The campaigns should not target children, but adults,” he added.
There is also the problem that for Czechs, beer is not considered alcohol, medical expert Eliška Sovová is quoted as saying.
“When patients are asked whether they drink, they say they do not . However, when asked how many beers they drink a day, they say three or five,” Sovová said.
In 2012, the average consumption of pure alcohol was 11.6 liters per capita in the Czech Republic, while the estimated average in OECD countries was 9.1 liters, MfD writes.
As far as children’s repeated drunkenness is concerned, the Czech Republic is the first among OECD countries, it adds.
Though the figures are not exact, about 30 children die from alcohol drinking in the Czech Republic annually, Vobořil told the paper.
In addition, some 1,000 of them end up at intensive care units annually for this reason, which is an alarming figure, he added.
Instead of preventive campaigns, young people are often targeted by advertising that supports alcohol abuse, Vobořil warned.
If no preventive measures are taken in the years to come, the Czech Republic will face a serious problem of child alcohol addicts in 10 years, he added.