Young people urged to drink sensibly

9 June 2016


Aware that this year’s ball season is fast approaching, Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) is urging Whanganui’s secondary school students to be careful when drinking alcohol.


WDHB health promotion officer Chester Penaflor says besides causing short-term harm, drinking alcohol at a young age can cause harm to a young person’s brain which is still developing until the age of 25 years old.


“Drinking alcohol may result in a teenager developing learning difficulties, memory problems and mental health issues as well as leading to other problems such as alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency later in life,” Mr Penaflor says.


“With this in mind, we are asking parents to clearly communicate their expectations to their teenage children and if they do decide to provide alcohol, they do so responsibly - to make sure that teenagers in their care are actively supervised, substantial food is offered, low alcohol beverages are available and transportation is arranged.


“The school ball season always raises questions around alcohol and young people, so we suggest parents read the following commonly asked questions in regards to supply of alcohol to under-18-year-olds.”


If I decide to supply alcohol to under-18s, what do I have to do?

Before supplying the alcohol you must get express consent from the under-18-year-old’s parent or legal guardian. You must have good reason to believe the consent you’ve been given is genuine. Unless you are certain you have permission from a minor's parent or legal guardian, don't give alcohol to anyone under-18. The law applies to everyone, irrespective of their age, who supplies alcohol to a young person. This includes friends, relatives and other parents and adults.  You must also supply the alcohol in a ‘responsible manner’.


What does supplying alcohol in a ‘responsible manner’ mean?

Responsible supply involves taking steps such as supervising the consumption of alcohol, providing food, offering low-alcohol and/or non-alcoholic drinks and ensuring safe transport options are in place. When supplying alcohol you should also think about what might be appropriate for a person under 18-years-of-age, the volume and strength of the alcoholic drinks, and the duration and type of event you are hosting or that your son or daughter is attending.


What can I do if someone has given my under-18-year-old alcohol without my consent?

The person who supplied alcohol to your child or teenager may have committed an offence and could be fined up to $2000. You could follow up with the person who provided the alcohol, and/or contact the local police.


The Health Promotion Agency has a website for those wanting information on alcohol and young people. To discuss if Mr Penaflor can provide a presentation on this topic, please call him on 348 3150. For more information, visit or call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.