Teenage pregnancy, drink driving, cheap booze: Tower Hamlets youth tackle the perils of alcohol

AS binge drinking among teenagers continues to rise, east London schoolchildren are tackling the issue head-on with a unique new play.

Youngsters from Bethnal Green Technology College and Langdon Park Community School took to the stage last Tuesday to spread their message on the perils of boozing.

The special event, Alcohol and Me, helped mark Alcohol Awareness Week and brought together teens, parents and health experts from across the borough.

Bethnal Green drama students performed an abstract piece on the dangers of alcohol abuse, exploring issues of teenage pregnancy, drink driving, the cheap price of booze and its accessibility to youngsters.

It was a telling reminder for Tower Hamlets, which has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related deaths in the country. Latest figures released by NHS Tower Hamlets reveal a rate of 24 per 100,000 deaths, compared to 14.7 nationally.

As for youngsters in the borough, almost 90 per-cent of 15-year-olds have tried alcohol while over a third drink once a week or more, a Tower Hamlets Council report revealed.

The 2009 report, Smashed, Alcohol Misuse amongst Young People, added that the high number of Muslims in the borough meant many youngsters did abstain from alcohol. However, binge drinking was on the rise. It said: “While the number of young people drinking alcohol has declined, those who are drinking are consuming more, more often.”

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Tower Hamlets deputy young mayor, Jahangir Alom, helped judge the special drama event, held at Oxford House in Derbyshire Street, naming the Bethnal Green school the winners.

He said: “There’s obviously an issue here (with alcohol abuse) and who’s best to sort it than young people?

“It is great to have so many passionate young people supporting such an important campaign and each other’s well being.”

Local GP Dr Anna Livingstone added: “They inspired their audience by developing awareness of the problems alcohol can bring to young people, as drinkers, carers and children of drinkers.”