That’s according to statistics, which were further backed up by a recent poll undertaken on the You Decide Facebook page, where 12% of respondents confessed to drinking every week, and 37% admitted to occasional consumption. 70% of the respondents had tried alcohol at one stage or another.
These are concerning statistics which together with the high unemployment levels of school leavers in South African society paint a bleak picture. SAB has taken action through a campaign, called You Decide, which is two years old this February.
You Decide, an initiative in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and provincial Departments of Education aims to effect real change amongst South Africa’s youth.
The programme encompasses a series of interactive initiatives aimed at teens, but with strong links to parents, peers, teachers, liquor traders and the community. It’s a multi-faceted intervention grounded in the latest thinking on the clinical and psychological aspects of this complex problem.
Some of the campaign elements include
- school visits through an interactive roadshow;
- an inter-school competition;
- curriculum aligned lesson plans for teachers;
- a practical guide for parents;
- resources for teens including counselling,
- reading material,
- a website and Facebook page;
- and a teen ambassador programme.
In addition to teens, others in the community are also targeted. Workshops are also held with parents and communities to raise awareness of, and identify ways to discourage underage drinking. Taverns around the schools are also visited to impress upon the taverners how important their role in preventing underage drinking is.
Since its launch You Decide has reached over 489 000 learners in 876 schools.
In November 2013 You Decide launched the #DoStuffZA competition, in which teens were encouraged to share, via social media, the fun activities they got up to instead of drinking. This was advertised on national TV which prompted kids from around the country to share photos of themselves and their friends playing sport, dancing, writing poetry and enjoying parkour, amongst other activities.
At the same time You Decide was part of Future Leaders, a reality TV show launched on SABC 1, where teens from around South Africa were mentored by successful South Africans such as Khaya Dlanga, leading up to a “pay if forward” giving back community initiative.
An ambassador was also selected for the programme. Hulisani Ravele, a successful young media personality best known for her years on Yo-TV, is actively involved in the programme. She regularly shares snippets of her life and also participates in live Mxit chats, opening up the conversation on alcohol abuse and giving advice and support.
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Image above: Hulisani Ravele, ambassador for the You Decide programme.