An innovative social media campaign has been created to encourage Southland parents not to shy away from those awkward conversations with their children and other parents about alcohol and parties.
Are Your Blinders On? has been developed by Healthy Attitudes Towards Alcohol (HATA), a collective of local agencies at the forefront of addressing Southland’s problematic relationship with alcohol.
Research has previously singled out the Southern District Health Board region as having the highest rate of hazardous drinking in New Zealand, while the percentage of under-age alcohol-related admissions at Southland Hospital is also higher than the national average.
Community surveys reflect a widespread acknowledgement that Southland has an ingrained culture of binge drinking across most age groups, with excessive alcohol consumption and underage drinking normalised, however there is also apathy towards finding solutions to the problem.
The Are Your Blinders On? campaign has been designed to challenge the preconceptions that adults have about teen drinking to reduce alcohol-related harm amongst Southland youth.
Real life examples from focus groups with Southland parents and teens have been used to design the campaign, which has also been tested with local audiences before being launched, HATA spokesperson Rebecca Amundsen said.
“We wanted this campaign to be as relatable and ‘Southland’ as possible. Ultimately we want to create permission for Southland parents to talk to their children about what happens at parties, and for parents to feel more comfortable ringing up other parents when planning and hosting parties,” Amundsen said.
“We need to try something different to change some of those long-held beliefs about drinking. Let’s be honest, those conversations can be incredibly awkward, but if the result is that our children are going to be safer, it’s worth it.”
The campaign will run across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and will feature animated horses acting out real-life scenarios involving the social supply of alcohol to young people.
“Our goal was to inject some fun and humour into what can be fraught situations,” Amundsen said.
“It’s important to mention that this campaign is focused on opening up those lines of communications, not the health issues or legal ramifications of youth drinking. This campaign is intended to work alongside other health promotion in our region, because one strategy alone will not break down the intergenerational issues which we have around alcohol.”
A dedicated Are Your Blinders On? website has also been created which will provide useful resources and information, along with a forum where parents will be able to access expert advice.