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School policies reduce student drinking -- if they're perceived to be enforced
Date:7/9/2013

have to blend in zero tolerance with harm minimization," said Catalano, director of the Social Development Research Group at the UW School of Social Work and principal investigator for the International Youth Development Study. "By the time they get into high school they need new strategies."

Those strategies could include talking to a teacher or being referred to treatment. The likelihood of binge drinking was reduced if students received an abstinence alcohol message or a harm minimization message, and if they believed teachers would talk to them about the dangers of alcohol. Catalano said such remediation policies are an important predictor of less alcohol use among ninth-graders.

He said the study shows harsh punishment for drinking on school grounds, such as calling the police or expelling the student, doesn't inhibit alcohol use on campus. Instead, long-term negative impacts of expulsion mean students feel disconnected from school and may subsequently drink more. Calling the police, which gives the student a police record, appears to make things even worse.

"What we've seen in other studies from this sample is suspension policies actually worsen the behavior problem," Catalano said. "What that says to me is, although you want policies and you want enforcement of policies, there are other ways of responding than suspension, expulsion and calling the police: Getting a student to talk to a teacher about how alcohol might be harmful, or a session with the school counselor."


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Contact: Richard Catalano
catalano@uw.edu
206-543-6382
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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